How to Create a Collector’s Edition for Your Game
Published on December 3, 2017
Hey there PUBLISHER_NAME! Are you looking to provide more value to gamers while padding your wallet with a bit more money? Want to do it in a way such that you don’t burn down all the goodwill you built up with your customer base? Look no further! This guide will walk you through how to build the best collector’s edition to make sure you can maximize fanbase satisfaction (revenue).
Do: Include the Game
This may sound like common sense to most, but this has been becoming increasingly frequent. In earlier times, it was to save costs for multi-platform games, so developers don’t have to worry about how many of each version to produce. But with the advent of digitally owning games, it has made even more sense as an “opt-in” package for people who want to drop the money for the physical bonuses. Some of them also come with a steel case to put your disc in, or a separate box to store your game case that you purchased separately.
In any case, accidentally spending up to $200 on some of these bundles for a loved one only to realize that the game isn’t even part of the package is a frustrating situation.
Wolfenstein: The New Order ($100)
Battlefield 1 ($130)
Mass Effect: Andromeda ($200)
Honorable Mention: Halo 3 ($70)
This is a pretty neat collector’s edition, but the reason I include it here is that the case didn’t hold the contents correctly. Upwards of 30% of units scratched the disks inside and rendered them unreadable, making it a “game-less” bundle.
Do: Deliver on Your Promises
This is not referring to the criticism that companies receive for not releasing a complete game to players. What I mean by this is cutting out parts of a bundle due to numerous reasons such as time constraints and budget limits. Although this very rarely happens, it’s sure to annoy and anger customers that were expecting something amazing.
Batman: Arkham Knight ($200)
The Batmobile statue was a pretty ambitious toy that Warner Brothers and Rocksteady were trying to create for the special edition. Due to “unforeseen circumstances that greatly compromised the quality” of the product, the studio scrapped the toy and canceled the entire bundle. Although everyone that preordered did get their money back (with Amazon even providing promotional credit), the worst part was that the tier right below was mostly sold out when the cancellation happened so many people were stuck with just the game.
Fable 2 ($80)
“Peter Molyneux not living up to the hype” jokes aside, this is probably the most tragic fate for a collector’s edition video game. Originally announced with a handful of collectibles, such as a figure, tarot cards, and a special box, that changed roughly a few weeks before the game shipped. Due to “production issues,” Lionhead studios ended up removing everything that differentiated the bundle from a standard retail version of the game. At least they were able to provide a free download of the game’s soundtrack as an apology.
Do: Keep the Quality Bar High
If fans are willing to shell out money for our premium bundles, it makes sense to provide them with the highest quality collectibles. Unfortunately, some companies fail in doing proper quality checks or outright not trying at all.
Call of Duty: World at War ($80)
Treyarch offered a pretty nice-looking, sizeable flask to go along with their game back in 2008. Unfortunately, most likely to avoid FDA approvals, the top doesn’t even open. For those that were able to pry it open, glue and unknown gunk filled the inside that rendered it useless (or at least, very unsafe to use).
Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite ($200)
This probably piqued the interest of both gamers and Marvel movie fans alike, as Capcom included a set of infinity stones in their latest iteration of their fighting game. Unfortunately, fans didn’t receive anything close to what they were expecting… I’ll just leave you with a tweet:
The Witcher 3 ($200)
Even the greats run into snags from time to time. The centerpiece of this well thought-out bundle was the 12” tall statue of Geralt slaying a griffin. Unfortunately, lack of proper quality checks with the final paint job led to less-than-desired results.
CD Projekt RED wasn’t really to blame here though, as they partnered up with Bandai Namco for the statues. Nevertheless, customers had to deal with some annoying hoops to jump through the get a replacement (some people had to keep sending them back until they got one that was acceptable)
Honorable Mentions: F.E.A.R 3 (~$110), Dead Island: Riptide (~$150)
Interestingly enough, both of these bundles never saw the light of day outside of Europe. They both received less-than-stellar reviews from consumers and critics alike for including some unique “conversation pieces.” I’ll let the images speak for themselves:
Deep Silver did end up apologizing for their tasteless torso statue and pulled them from the market, but some “lucky” customers still ended up receiving them in the mail anyways when the game was released.
Don’t: Fragment the Content
Collector’s editions usually come with DLC (Day 1 and/or upcoming), exclusive items (that companies eventually sell separately anyway), and other goodies. When a company introduces multiple versions for a game, the priciest one tends to include everything the tier under it has. But sometimes publishers fragment the content across numerous versions to force completionists into buying the same game multiple times. I initially had a couple of games from different companies to showcase here, but one publisher seems to be doing this consistently, so I present to you…
Ubisoft tends to release too many versions of their game and fragment their content across platforms and even regions. All these combine to require a spreadsheet to understand and decide what you’re going to buy.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
At least they kept it simple with the newest Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Don’t: Go Insane
Doing ridiculous PR stunts is a way to market your game, but some companies go overboard and have created some crazy collector’s editions in the process. It’s fun to note that most of these are actually “collector’s” label-worthy as they only produce one copy of the bundle, but they usually don’t end up being bought by anyone in the end.
Resident Evil 6 (~$1300)
Probably the biggest ripoff of the bunch, this bundle comes with:
- A copy of the game,
- 4 RE6-branded tablet covers. Tablets in this context aren’t like an iPad; they’re medicinal tablets,
- A leather jacket that Leon wears in the game.
It’s a fairly small amount of collectibles for such a high price (and a mediocre game)
GRID 2 (~$190,000)
It was bound to happen sooner or later that a company would bundle an actual car with a driving game. That’s what happened when GRID 2 was released; the BAC Mono supercar that headlines the game was available in a bundle if you had the cash actually to afford it. Even more surprisingly, a copy of this edition was actually sold to none other than… deadmau5:
Dying Light (~$390,000)
If buying a car wasn’t enough, Techland offered a package that included a house.
Saint’s Row IV ($1,000,000)
Ars Technica did some research and found that you’re losing money by buying this package and you’re better off purchasing everything in the edition individually.
Dying Light: The Following (~$10,000,000)
I’m pretty sure this was a joke.
Examples of Good Collector’s Editions
Now, I’ve been ripping on bad examples rather than provide good ones, which make it seem like none exist. But there are plenty of bundles that take the tips above to heart to create a package that’s full of love and provide actual value to gamers.
Elder Scrolls Anthology ($80)
This package includes all the Elder Scrolls games released so far (Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim) and their DLC. It also comes with a map of each of the regions and a handy box to keep all your games. Not much extra content but it’s a neat collector’s item to have until the next Elder Scrolls game comes out.
Starcraft II + Expansions ($100 each)
Blizzard did an outstanding job in building their collector’s editions for the Starcraft 2 games. The original included a USB drive with the original 1998 game and Brood War expansion, along with a commentary DVD, art book, and soundtrack. The ones for the expansions were very similar as well, with Heart of the Swarm coming with a mousepad. The extra digital content that carried over to other Blizzard games such as Diablo and Hearthstone were excellent fan service as well (and advertisement).
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence ($110)
This 3-disc collection comes with:
- Subsistence (Disc 1): An updated version of MGS 3 feature improvements and extra content. Also includes Demo Theater, which allows players to customize in-game cutscenes.
- Persistence (Disc 2): Contains previous games in the series: Metal Gearand (previously unreleased in the US) Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. A Boss Attack mode for MGS3, mini-games, unreleased cutscenes, and the online mode.
- Existence (Disc 3): A supercut of all of the game’s cutscenes to provide a 3.5-hour movie-like experience for the players
It’s a pretty cool bundle of content for fans and doesn’t waste time or money with superfluous material.
Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition ($150)
Comes with a quality fight stick the original Mortal Kombat cabinet designers created. It even opens up for storage of various objects (for example, the game!) and easy access to the buttons and stick for modding. Tekken 6 also had a similar bundle that sported a wireless fight stick (!), but the quality wasn’t as good, so I opted to highlight this instead.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 ($150)
Comes with actual-functioning night vision goggles; obviously, they are not professional grade, but much better than having a piece of plastic. They also toss in an art book and a copy of the original Call of Duty. The series used to release some cool physical items for their Prestige editions in the past:
- Call of Duty: Black Ops ($150) came with an RC car that had a camera attached (and it transmitted audio/video to the controller!)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops II ($180) came with a drone
- Call of Duty: Ghosts ($200) came with an action cam (basically a GoPro)
There you have it PUBLISHER_NAME, the perfect recipe to get as much happiness (money) from your loyal fans and customers. Now go out there and build something amazing!
P.S. Remember not to ruin all the good reputation that you’ve now built up by adding in completely unnecessary microtransactions, cutting out game content, having on-disc Day 1 DLC, lying to your player base, and other shady tactics!