Musings of a Compulsive Game Buyer
I never used to buy collector’s or limited editions of games. That changed this week. I never used to pre-order games either. That policy went out the door last fall. It used to be that I waited months after a game was released before I bought it, possibly with all the DLC bundled with it. So what changed? Several things. For starters, sequels make up a large portion of new releases and, if I liked the first game, chances are I immediately want the second one. This would explain why I have preorders in for Darksiders II and Borderlands 2. This doesn’t explain the collector’s editions, though. It turns out that I like to have neat looking things sitting on my desk. Collector’s editions usually have neat things in them. But are they actually worth it?
My gut says no, they’re not. The Uncharted 3 Collector’s Edition marked the first time I ever got my hands on the pricier version of a game, but that purchase was due to a sale at Best Buy, which resulted in the collector’s edition being cheaper than the standard version of the game. My Borderlands 2 pre-order, on the other hand, was a hefty $150, but I couldn’t resist the Ultimate Loot Edition when I saw it had an actual loot chest!!! I still feel kind of guilty for pre-ordering that, but my love for the original compelled me to do it. I’m rather surprised that I even managed to snag one, since they sold out in four days. It probably wouldn’t have been the worst thing to happen if I didn’t get one, though.
Last fall saw a huge number of epic titles released and I fell victim to my compulsion like never before. By August 2011, I was anxiously awaiting SEVEN games that I had already pre-ordered (Skyrim, Serious Sam 3, Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed Revelations, Deus Ex Human Revolution, Saints Row the Third, and RAGE, if you’re the curious type). I mentioned this to a friend after I had pre-ordered the seventh and he was kind enough not to call me an idiot to my face, although he was surely thinking it. And looking back at it all, I was an idiot. Of those games, I’ve actually completed only four of them. The other three I’ve barely touched. At this point, I could buy them all for about a sixth of the cost. Was it really worth it to play these games as soon as they were released? Although I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time, the answer is no. I paid $60 for each of those games (except Serious Sam, that was $30). If I had waited, I could have saved at least $30 on each one. It takes one glance at the sales Steam has had this year to realize that. Deus Ex has consistently gone on sale for $8 multiple times. Arkham City is down to $30 and I’ve seen it drop to around $10. RAGE bombed badly enough that it can usually be found for $5 – 10. If I had waited for a few months, I could have gotten 20 new games for the price I paid for those six. That’s not very economical at all, is it? (**Note that the prices I’m quoting here are for PC versions of all these games)
And this doesn’t even take into account the DLC that accompanies most games these days. Saints Row the Third has more silly little content add-on packs then I have fingers, and at some point, a new edition of the game will probably be released that bundles all DLC with the game, priced lower than my pre-order for the base game. So with all this evidence that says pre-orders are a bad idea, why are people still doing it? There are incentives with most pre-orders these days and that may be enough for someone to be enticed into the purchase. Although I say purchase, it’s also worth noting that many pre-orders don’t require any payment until the order is actually shipped. Sequels certainly come into play when an existing IP has the fan base necessary to ensure millions of pre-orders. And then there are people like me who enjoy the feeling of buying something new, whether it’s a pre-order or a first day purchase. It looks like that’s enough to overcome a potentially bad economic decision since pre-orders are only becoming more and more common.
The collector’s and limited editions of games put those pre-order prices to shame, though. After my Uncharted 3 purchase, I looked on Amazon.com and found the same product for $85. This made me curious about other collector’s editions, so I began to browse. My favorite was a Fallout 3 Amazon exclusive edition available for $10,000! I hope that bobble head is worth it! Even for games that have been out for over a year, prices consistently remain between $80 and $100. After splurging on the Borderlands 2 Ultimate Loot Edition, I think I’ll be sticking with my $60 pre-orders, thank you very much. My Nathan Drake statue will keep my desk awesome enough.