Being a transient insomniac does have its upsides; it gives me plenty of time to listen to the plethora of video gaming related podcasts available on the internet. Last night I decided to listen to the latest episode of CAGcast, the Cheap Ass Gamer podcast. In the podcast CheapyD and Wombat talked a little about Limited Editions of video games and it got me thinking.
It used to be that only a select few games would also have a limited edition, these, unlike their modern counter-parts were actually limited editions, there would be a relatively low amount of these games circulated and more often than not they’d be almost impossible to find after the day one release. In a stark contrast, these days almost every game that makes enough noise to attract even the smallest amount of attention is released with a not-so-limited “limited” edition, even the triple AAA titles follow along the same lines. The effect of this is that it takes away from the personal satisfaction gained from having a limited edition of a particular game and more importantly it makes you look like a complete idiot when you pull out Halo 3 LE to show off to friends or the internet at large, since everyone has it and it’s not particularly difficult to track one down it’s hardly noteworthy.
Looking through my stack of games I can only find 5 special editions; God of War 2, Shadow of The Colossus, Bioshock, Devil May Cry 4 and Resident Evil 4, most of these were purchased a little while after their initial release when the price had dropped, although I picked up Bioshock and DMC4 on day one this was mainly because the price difference between the standard and LE was insignificant, I just wasn’t interested in buying a limited edition of a game when nearly every other person on the planet had it, it makes me sound a bit pretentious and snobbish but if you think about it having so many that even months after the release of a game there’s a sizeable amount of them floating about defeats the purpose of having a limited edition. As I mentioned earlier most of the limited editions these days don’t have the “wow” factor they once had, and most people who buy these games either intend on keeping them for the memories (which will always be a little tarnished unless they bring it upon themselves to embark on a crusade to wipe out every other copy in an attempt to make their copy more valuable), or they get them to sell later, and considering the value is linked to the rarity of the item, they probably won’t get much for it.
The thing that makes limited editions impressive these days are the ridiculous prices, and it’s not usually the actual product that impresses, it’s normally the fact that you were dedicate enough (or stupid enough depending on how you see it) to pay the ridiculous price to get it, not everyone is that crazy, therefore you are one of few people insane enough to have the limited edition, props to you.
Even though I knew that companies put out Limited Editions because there are always people crazy enough to buy them even if they’re marginally different from the standard edition it still doesn’t explain why smaller companies with games that don’t exactly warrant a special edition do it, you can usually tell whether your product is going to sell well or not which logically should dictate whether or not to release a limited edition but that isn’t usually what happens, games that aren’t exactly poised for success still have limited editions. After thinking about it for a while I’ve come up with a theory, like all of my theories it’s farfetched and bordering on unbelievable, but that won’t stop me from talking about it.
It’s a well known fact that most retailers these days make their money from the used games market, whereas ordinarily a portion of the sales of new games revert back to the developers and publishers selling returned items as used game allows retailers to make money for themselves, this is one of the reasons that retailers aren’t too happy about the internet as a content delivery method.
This used games market is something that developers and publishers are also aware of, which is why I think they’re all too willing to release limited edition versions of games. I think that these limited editions are used as a form of guaranteed revenue, since most people who intend on buying a limited edition wouldn’t settle for a used limited edition it’s pretty rare to find limited editions in the used section or the bargain bin, for developers and publishers it’s ideal, keeping the limited editions around the same price as the standard edition is usually a compelling enough reason to pick it up, if these limited editions do sell it pretty much guarantees the money from it will come back to them, and also limits the money retailers earn from selling games used.
At this point I only buy the limited edition versions of games to support the developers, provided that they’re at a reasonable price that is. It’s too late to pick up the GTA IV Limited Edition but maybe I’ll get the Metal Gear Solid 4 version – let Kojima know that if he told me to jump off a building, by god I’ll do it, and do it well.