It’s amazing to me not only how we get used to pretty significant changes in culture but how quickly we do so. For example, a mere five years ago free-to-play MMOs represented a fringe business model, and we were shocked when DDO made the switch. Now it’s pretty much the opposite, with subscription-only games being on the outskirts (and new sub games struggling to maintain those models).
This is why I’m not terribly surprised that the sticker shock we experienced just a few years ago regarding the high cost of collector’s editions has receeded to dull acceptance. Remember when $150 for Star Wars: The Old Republic’s special edition was practically scandal? (And it still is, considering how little you actually got for it.) But SWTOR wasn’t alone in pushing the standard CE price, which formally was around $80, up into three digits.
But are all prices shooting up into the $150 range? Or is this merely the case of selective observation?
Guild Wars 2 sold its much more impressive CE for $150 as well. The best version of RIFT: Nightmare Tide will set you back $150. There was a $150 EVE Online collector’s edition that came out in 2013. The Imperial Edition of ESO was $100 (and slightly controversial as it included an otherwise-locked race). STO is selling an “operations pack” of the upcoming Delta Rising expansion for $125. Destiny had a big-box Ghost Edition for $150. The Secret World had a Grand Master Pack for $200 that included a lifetime sub. Then we get into pre-orders that allowed you to buy into the alpha testing program, such as Landmark’s $100 trailblazer pack and ArcheAge’s $150 founders pack.
That isn’t to say that $150 is all anyone does any more. In comparison, the most expensive version of original RIFT’s special editions was just $80. WildStar’s digital deluxe edition (there was no CE) was $85. The Warlords of Draenor expansion CE, which is quite loaded, is still a reasonable $90. The Diablo III CE is merely $50. The FFXIV CE ranged between $50 and $80 depending on what version and platform you chose. The DDO: Shadowfell Conspiracy CE was $50. EQ: Call of the Forsaken CE is $90. as is the new EQII expansion CE. The most expensive version of LOTRO: Riders of Rohan was $70. Defiance had a $70 CE.
Of course, all of this is hard to compare because you’ve got so many factors — the base game vs. expansions, physical CEs vs. digital CEs, pre-order bonuses vs. launch editions. But at a glance, $150 isn’t as “standard” as I thought when I began writing this post. It’s probably more standard for a big physical box CE (i.e. “the cube”).
Is $150 too much for a collector’s edition?
This is a tricky question to answer, mostly because it boils down to your financial status, how much you have been looking forward to this game, whether it’s on top of a subscription, and what’s being offered for that price. We also must consider inflation, which has been steadily rising whereas the average MMO sub fee has not.
While I am a complete sucker for CEs, I’ll say that the $150 trend is pushing it for me. I’ve splurged in the past, to be sure, but thank goodness these don’t come out every other month. $150 is a grocery store trip for our family. It’s a really good Kindle plus a couple of ebooks. And it’s a heap of digital goodies if I take that money directly to games’ cash shops and buy select items that I know I’ll use.
What we get with CEs is exclusivity — physical and digital items that you can’t get anywhere else. I’m generally pleased with CEs that deliver account-wide beneficial items (such as mounts or increased inventory space) that will benefit my characters for years to come. If I signed back up for World of Warcraft today, any new character I made would get the same mini panda or diablo pet that the original CE entailed.
I’m losing respect for the feelies of a CE, however. Soundtracks are a huge draw, but only if you can’t get them elsewhere. Statues? Cloth maps? Keyboard overlays? Authenticator fobs? Let’s be honest, most of these will be trash or dusty shelf items before too long.
I guess I can’t blame games like STO and ArcheAge trying to tap whales with their huge up-front pre-orders, since people can more easily justify spending that kind of cash if they’re getting the game or expansion for free anyway. It doesn’t stop my eyes from bulging and/or rolling, but they gotta pay the bills somehow.
For me, I’d love to see more CEs in the reasonable zone of $60-$80, since it vastly increases the likelihood that I’ll drop cash for them. $150 still triggers a strong debate in my household.