Last week I talked a bit about some of the ways in which publishers and developers are parsing out content and selling it back to us, usually in the form of DLC and/or micro transactions. Those aren’t the only means by which they seek to siphon even more money from gamers, however. Two of their other go-to methods are retailer exclusives and collector’s editions. Retailer exclusives are especially egregious because they tie content to specific retailers. Certain characters, modes, levels, and other things will ONLY be offered if you buy the game in question from a particular retailer. Often times this means having to choose certain content over other content, unless you’re okay with buying the same game multiple times to get the exclusive content. It’s a terrible practice and one that blatantly screws over gamers. Retailer exclusives aren’t just limited to in-game content either; they will also use pre-order bonuses to entice us to buy the game from them. If multiple retailers have multiple pre-order bonuses that you want, you’re again faced with picking one or buying multiple copies of the same game.
Collector’s editions, while not as blatantly exploitative as the aforementioned methods of extracting money from the gaming public, are another way game publishers try to fleece us. There’s no doubt that many CE’s are really nicely packaged and include some neat extras, but the majority of them have cheaply made figures/statues, flimsy art books, and/or soundtrack CD’s. They also cost anywhere from $70 to $300. Adding insult to injury, these CE’s are supposed to be limited, but quite often that isn’t the case. However, some publishers, like Square-Enix, Capcom, and EA, will offer super limited CE’s through their online stores. They will sell out almost instantly, and if you didn’t manage to get one you’re just out of luck, unless you want to pay a hugely inflated price on eBay.
The trend seems to be clear; game publishers are going to great lengths to get hundreds of dollars out of you per game. It’s outlandish, but most of us don’t give it a lot of thought because we’re used to it being the status quo. If we stopped making micro transactions, refused to buy DLC, and let the collector’s editions gather dust on store shelves perhaps the industry would take notice. That’s not going to happen though, so we may find ourselves subject to even more overt content parsing in the future. As always, time will tell.