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Do Collector’s Editions Persuade Anyone to Buy a Game?

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception Collector's Edition included a Nathan Drake figurine, his replica belt buckle, and others all housed inside a traveling chest for $100.

With the core video game release season underway, a trend that seems to be ever evolving is titles being coupled with elaborate collector’s editions bundles. It seems more prevalent in the months of October through December due to the fact that there are so many major titles that use this marketing strategy. Throw in some figurines, an artbook of the game development, the soundtrack, whatever else they can concoct, and charge up to $120. For die hard fans of certain franchises a collector’s edition may be a must own, but do the extras ever persuade anyone on the fence about a game to purchase it?

It seems that only within recent years have the additional new items in collector’s editions really ramped up. The most standard items included are action figures/figurines, the soundtrack to the game, and an artbook. To provide some context, here are some great examples of AAA title games with collector’s editions:

Personally, I enjoy collecting little figurines of my favorite characters from movies and games, but I have never purchased an enhanced edition of a game. The figurines seem intriguing to me, but the additional items do not have the draw. I respect the fact that the developers and team members worked hard on their title and have a forum to release their art work, soundtrack, and other items that may be lesser appreciated than they should be. However, paying twice the amount of a game for something to look at for thirty minutes and be done with is not worth the marginal cost for me. Arguably, there are some cool perks added in these collector’s editions – like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’s collector’s edition coming with functional night-vision goggles.

There are always exceptions to rules though. Gamers always get attached to certain franchises for a wide range of reasons. Maybe they relate to the character, aspire to be the character, or love the story of the game, but in the instances where someone makes a true connection with a game or franchise, a collector’s edition may be a necessary purchase. What crossed my mind when looking over the newly announced BioShock: Infinite Collector’s Edition was, “has a collector’s edition ever persuaded a consumer to buy a game in general.”

I own all of the games pictured above, but I also planned on purchasing them regardless of what their collector’s editions entailed. Are there gamers out there that see a collector’s edition of a game and decide they’re going to purchase the game due to the awesome additions to the regular title? My gut reaction is no, or at least they are few and far between. The only people in my head that purchase collector’s editions are hard core fans of certain franchises. I have never seen financials in regards to how much it costs for companies to add the items for the collector’s edition versus the marginal profit they gain from the sales, but there has to be a reason why companies and developers continue to piece together collector’s editions – they must be profitable. Enough people are evidently purchasing these special editions to warrant the costs of putting them together.

If I had my ideal choice of what game companies would piece together is kind of an a la carte option. Developers could lay out the numerous options available to purchase, the consumer checks off which items they want to purchase, and a price is given based on what they’ve selected. If that were an option, I would seriously consider purchasing the figurines only to games for the additional cost of only that figurine (I would assume around $25). I think the a la carte style would give consumers more freedom of choice in what they are purchasing. The flip side to this option is that the companies work hard to create these additional items, and no one may choose to buy them. Will anyone choose to buy an art design book if it’s not just bundled? That’s a business decision that would have to be seriously analyzed by companies, and a major road block in this potential system. Either way, I think the freedom to choose what you pay for would be interesting.

I do think collector’s editions serve useful purposes overall. They provide game artists, composers, and other team members a opportunity to be recognized for their hard work on their respective title. That’s all well and good, however, I do not think a usual consumer will be persuaded to purchase an enhanced edition just in order to own a figurine.

Lucas has evolved in his video game preferences. With a foundation in predominantly sports game, action adventure games are now his favorite to play. He is a competitive swimmer and likes to play volleyball, basketball, and golf.

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