Welcoming the Digital Collector
Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty. I remember walking towards a GAME store two summers ago, just mere days after my 23rd birthday, and seeing banners outside the store signalling the game had arrived. The first thing I thought besides “I can’t buy it.” was: “Will they have any left?” That was the only thought of relief I had that actually worked before walking near a store after launch day. But no, they had plenty to spare.
The subject of today is the AAA games’ Collector’s Edition sets. If my memory serves me right, the oldest thing that most closely resembles today’s Collector’s Editions are games bundled with the latest-generation console, but I might be wrong about this. In any case, getting a “Collector’s Edition” pack of a game quickly grew from being something exclusive to some developers to a new standard in franchise games; some of us buy them out of pure love for the game, to support their favorite developers, or maybe just to get the unique toys bundled with them. We might even do it for all of the reasons above and more! But even though you might think we’re all doing our favorite developers a favor (yes, you included!) by supporting them through their Collector’s Editions, you really don’t know how much more money we’re actually putting into the publisher’s pockets, no matter how expensive that big box might seem to you.
Eventually though, we arrive at a crossroads here. Blizzard for example, since Wrath of the Lich King, have been offering digital downloads of their games. And if my memory serves me right, Starcraft 2 was the first game they allowed you to buy straight from the online store on launch day without needing to go to a store and get a physical copy to play it. This is all very good and very healthy for the environment, since after all, we only use the game box’s DVD to install the game and never see it again, right? But what happens with those of us who simply love knowing that we have a Collector’s Edition of our favorite games? We might be filling a publisher’s pockets, but hey, why not? After all, they’re the ones funding for 5 years (or more) our $100m dollar games, aren’t they? They deserve something in return, too. But bigger than that, we do it not only to support the people who make some of our favorite games, even if they represent the same to the art of videogames as the Transformers franchise does to true film-makers, we do it because it comes out of our hearts, because we, somehow, and as stupid as it sounds, want to have a special part of a product we’ve been so eagerly waiting for, and the only thing we need, is to know that we have it, no matter how many times we actually look at it throughout our lifetimes. That’s what a Collector’s Edition really means to some of us, regardless of what the box holds inside.
That’s why I smiled when I saw Blizzard introduced a Digital Deluxe Edition for the fourth World of Warcraft expansion.
Once again, Blizzard embraces digital and offers those customers willing to pay a bit more something to differentiate themselves from “the rest” in the manner they so choose; either by exhibiting their unique flying mount (the Nether Drake will always be the best for me, though), walking around Stormwind with their new puppy, proudly showing their Diablo III banner sigil and accents, or by logging in to battle.net for some Starcraft 2 play using an exclusive portrait.
Whatever the case, I hope more developers & publishers embrace the road of the Digital Collector’s Edition, because as I’ve mentioned before, having tons of CDs and DVDs piling up in my room is good to fill some space until a certain point, then they just become a luggage that I have to bare carrying around due to the enormous amount of money they all represent.
But of course, some boxes weigh a lot more than others, and I’m not just talking about kilograms…