Sunday, 1 January 2017

The Rise of the Collector's Edition Pricing.

In recent years, collecting has grown more and more expensive. Not just for me, and not just for collectors like me. From video game and movie collecting, to BNIB Action Figures, to stamps: the price of collecting has risen. That's partly down to things getting rarer over time: between people binning copies, to copies getting damaged and less minty-fresh (therefore less desirable) the longer they are out there in the wild, but also, the number of collectors is increasing, causing the number of copies available to decrease, as more enter their collections and the demand for the product skyrockets.

And that's something that is affecting the video game (and to a lesser extent I find, movie) collecting hobby quite a lot, and not necessarily in a good way. Now, this might be, and probably is to some extent, applicable to other collecting habits too. The marketers are seeing the increase in popularity of video game collecting, so they release more variations of a single item/game to cause collectors to buy more in order to complete their collection. This then trickles down to non-collectors, too. "Oh, I'm a huge fan of "x" franchise, look - I can pay £20 more for the game and I'll get a cool trinket". Boom. Another sale, gaining extra money than they'd normally have made from that particular person - and potentially a new collector to add to the pile - who will be so happy with their purchase, they'll be more likely to buy more non-standard copies in the future. And then boom, again, the marketers think, why not release region specific versions, oh and we could also bring out one that is super rare and limited to 1000, or convention exclusive items, etc etc (really, I could go on all day).

I made this in all of two seconds, and I understand it completely rips the pish right out of my own hobby. But it's just so fucking true.
So already, we're expanding the number of releases a single franchise would bring out. And bearing in mind the up front costs of planning (and therefore making) these editions, it used to be something more common for the established, popular franchises. Smaller titles, or even AAA games that are new, standalone games (with no previous games before it) wouldn't really see this treatment, bar maybe a cardboard slipcover if you were lucky, as there just wasn't enough demand, and not enough potential in guaranteed sales. But now with the very obviously increased collecting community, pretty much every game gets some form of edition and for games that would previously have been digital only, we have the likes of Limited Run Games now releasing highly collectible, low print runs of physical releases to satiate the collector mentality.

So again, we've expanded the market further. And to add to my point of most games getting some form of release, my next point is the downfall of certain types of variation due to this. A big one being Steelbooks. Steelbooks were once something to be excited about, "Oh my god, this game comes in a Steelbook", "Ooh, you can tell that's a good edition because there's a Steelbook in it", etc. And that was as recently as 2010 for us. Even a few years after that, things were still pretty good for Steelbooks. But then every game wound up getting a Steelbook. You got empty Steelbooks as free preorder bonuses with games, instead of them being an actual edition to buy. You could often buy them standalone for as little as £5/$5 in places such as GAME and Futureshop. Every movie in the back catalogue got a Steelbook release. They stopped feeling special. The market is over saturated with them now, and not just in that every release gets one. They also became super common, for the most part, no longer being released in fairly low numbers, but shifted in the tens of thousands. Gone are the days of a Steelbook being truly limited to 1000 (like my SDCC Sucker Punch steel), and not just "limited to 1000" in one particular store/region (a la Zavvi's releases). And pricing of Steelbooks has gone way off now (for movies, mostly). would sell old title movies, rereleased in bluray Steelbook format for £9.99/£14.99 each. When this changed over to Zavvi after the death of, the prices rose to mostly being £17.99-£24.99 now for these old-title releases (with Disney releases pretty much always being the higher end, and new releases sometimes even hitting £30+).

Just a quick screenshot of "steelbook" listings on
So the market changed, Steelbooks had dropped in popularity, but big editions were still popular, right? Enter, 2016. Previous years have had their fair share of large editions, with Halo Reach Legendary Edition, Gears of War Epic Edition and Skyrim Legendary Edition all releasing fairly close together (with box sizes pretty much identical to one another). But in comparison, most other editions around then were smaller. Steelbooks, and generally smallish, but still high quality(ish) editions. These were there to balance out the insanity of the bigger ones. And whilst there were these bigger editions, they pretty much all tapped out at the £99.99 price point. More common were the smaller editions, around the £59.99-£79.99 range. Something which seemed kinda expensive still, but nowadays is a fond memory of the days of yore.

Remember back when we could afford to collect every release in a month, whilst paying bills, and still have money leftover for some cheap eBay pickups? Yeah it's hard to believe a time like that ever existed. And this is the part where people like to get up on their high horses.

Yesss, I know we don't *have* to buy everything that is released, and I know we don't have to get them the instant that they come out. Heck, I know that we don't need to buy any of it, period. But we want to, and this is what collecting is all about. You collect because you want to, and often it evolves into a type of obsession. An addiction

Now don't worry, I'm not gonna go all dark on you. I don't mean addiction in the sell my entire house and all of my other belongings for one more hit edition, type addiction. Just in the sense that, once you start collecting games, or well anything really, it becomes difficult sometimes to draw a line.

Some people draw that line at one single franchise, or a few closely related franchises - for example Zelda collectors, or Nintendo collectors. Some people will collect only Steelbooks (although due to the over-saturated market, this seems like a less common aim now), and some will collect only for one platform. And then there's people like us here in the Asylum (which is aptly named at times like this), people like us who go for the broader range. The much broader range. We collect for any platform (albeit Xbox One being the primary one), we collect for any games that we like (and admittedly the ones we like the look of, but have yet to play), and we don't hesitate about double dipping on a particular release. Two cool editions of "x" game, sure. Why the hell not?

For people like us, 2016 has been a fucking bastard of a year. Not only have there been a shockingly high number of releases most months (at least in the latter half), the prices have skyrocketed too. And thus, we reach the main part of this post (only took us 1100+ words). We've had to forgo a lot of the editions, and even just games in general, that we would've normally gone for, purely because the pricing of these editions just keeps getting higher. So in a month where we'd previously have managed maybe 10 releases (between a few game CEs and some cheap movie Steelbooks - how we miss you!), we're now managing maybe two or three some months. And not only do you have the CEs to budget for (or standard copies if no CE is available), you now have to expect another £20/£40 for the bloody Season Pass too!

Season Passes, for the most part, absolutely boil our blood. Charging extra for bits of a game, sometimes charging as much as the game itself in the first place, when these things should have been in the game from Day One anyway. And even more annoying is when you buy the Season Pass, to see that it's only 10kb, and essentially just unlocks the content that was already right there on the disc, but was locked off, because hey, "We want more money!". I'm looking at you Dragonball Xenoverse. But alas, just like with CEs, we keep buying these Season Passes even though we fucking despise them. And the companies know that we're gonna keep buying them. So they'll keep doing it. Until the day we wise up and actually stop paying for Season Passes, they'll just keep releasing unfinished games, and churning out DLC for their Season Passes for countless months, instead of devoting time to working on a new game. We're fucking ourselves over, essentially. But it's a vicious cycle we've gotten ourselves into, and I don't see us (gamers as a whole) getting out anytime soon.

January - April this year were fairly reasonable. Busy, but manageable. We missed a few things that we wanted, but overall, managed to get most of what we'd aimed for. Bear in mind that April saw the release of the £300+ Dark Souls III Prestige Edition when I say that this part of the year was manageable.

May served as a bit of a nightmare month, budget wise. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End had a £104.99 CE, Doom had a £100 CE, and Overwatch had a £100 CE too. Those three, all within a fortnight of each other. We also had the TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan game, which didn't turn out as great as we'd hoped, Dead Island: Definitive Edition and then One Piece: Burning Blood - which was the one that took the bullet that month, and had to be missed. But even at that, this was one we'd considered waiting it out for anyway, as have yet to catch up with current events in the show, so would be a little worried, haha.

June, we debated over the Mirror's Edge: Catalyst CE. See, in previous years, it would have been a no-brainer (since we'd normally just preorder everything), but with all the other releases crammed in around the same time, that was £160 that we just couldn't spare, at least not for a game that we would no doubt not have played for some time anyway (and just as well, too, as it ended up dropping). We also had Mighty No. 9, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Inside (squeeee!). and a few anime things, and figures. As I've said before, we collect a lot of things, haha. For games releases though, June was surprisingly quiet. As was July.

August onwards was when things really sped up, coming to a culmination in October/November, which thankfully slowed again in December. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided CE got the bump in August, due to too much going on at the time. Followed by missing out on PlayStation VR in October, as holy crap that month was busy (especially since payment for Final Fantasy XV's UCE was taken on the 31st, despite having a release date of 29/11!) Missed Skylanders Imaginators too, which was annoying due to the inclusion of Crash Bandicoot - however the wee man asked for this for Christmas, so we now have it, at last.

November, we skipped Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, AC: Ezio Collection, and also quite a few non-game releases. Lots of anime released in November, including the beautiful Fullmetal Alchemist Ultimate Collector's Edition, which was fairly expensive, but understandable considering the contents.

This thing is made of resin, and limited to 1000 worldwide. Now that's what we like to see.
I hope that 2017 will be better for releases, both in pricing and in scheduling. And for a moment, I thought "maybe it's gonna be", when I saw that GAME had listed the Resident Evil 7 Biohazard Collector's Edition for sale. £99.99. For a CE with a decent amount of contents. Oh, but wait, what's this? No game. Riiiiight. When is that trend gonna die? We've seen it a few times in the past, usually with CEs from stores such as the Bethesda store, with the Wolfenstein: The New Order Panzerhund Edition, and the Bioware Store with the Dead Space 3 Dev Team Edition. Both of which, I must admit, I did purchase. But that was primarily down to the cool contents and packaging of both of these. Resi 7's CE looks far more like your typical CE - you know - one that should have the game in the packaging as standard!? ReCore CE also pulled this stunt recently, but part of me thinks this was down to awful preorder sales for it, as it started as being listed as a £149.99 CE, for not very much content, in all honesty. This was then knocked down to £69.99 with the game, or £40 without, here in the UK. A massive price drop, before release had even rolled around. And then willing to sell without the game? The box is huge, probably a bit bigger than the Halo Reach/GOW3/Skyrim CEs, and they probably produced a buttload of them, so GAME (who it was exclusive to in the UK) probably thought "Wow, these are not going to shift at all. And we can't afford the warehouse space to be taken up with them all for months before we price drop".

Anyway, this concludes my ranty post. Expect another one soon, as I've got a whole load of shit with my hobby to get off of my chest (and don't worry, that's not to say I'm giving up or anything, just venting a few frustrations lol).

What things annoy you about your hobbies?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

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