Collector's editions are video game alchemy, turning cheap materials into free money with a few magic words and the idiocy of consumers. Limited editions are how developers have a yard sale without letting any fans obsessive enough to buy them know where they live. When people spend more on one advertising prop than five other fantastic games, we don't get to ask why gamers are treated like idiots anymore.
Call Of Duty is the closest shooters have to a sports franchise, releasing new titles every year by updating the names of the people you want to destroy just because they come from somewhere else. The single-player mode has devolved into whack-a-mole with a reload function, interspersed with cutscenes which repeat if you don't press the occasional button. But the multiplayer is the first entirely simulated arms race. Players have to buy the latest version if they want to keep up their kill count with those of random people with usernames like Dong_MasterXXX420.
"I could only look saner if these vertical slashes were drawn in blood."
Their military realism now extends to blatantly padding the costs of their projects. And the worst example was when the World At War Collector's Edition came with a flask*, and that asterisk is an ASCII asshole shitting all over the meaning of words and the lives of anyone who bought it. The flask looked like a flask and was described as a flask, but was actually a fuck you. It was solid metal, and sealed shut. Even compared to most other collector's edition goodies, it was entirely useless.
The playable game disc and the exact opposite of that disc.
Halo! The game that proved you can skip developing a main character if you finally give us a separate button for grenades. You'd see more original character development with Nosferatu fighting Bruce Lee in a hall of mirrors. The closest they came to making Master Chief a believable guy was how his computer slowly filled with softcore pornography over time.
"UNSC IT wants to talk to you about having me on your computer."
The unlockable twist in the fourth game was that the main character had eyes. As opposed to any of the incredible Halo revelations they could have made. Despite this, people will buy fabulous, pointless John-117-related gifts for far too much money, and Microsoft milked those teats dry.
Halo 3 released with multiple collector's editions, and punished anyone who didn't buy the most expensive one. You think I'm joking. The Legendary Edition came with a miniature Master Chief helmet. A helmet you can't wear seems even crueler than the undrinkable flask, but a completely empty and faceless helmet was such an accurate representation of the character that it should be in a modern art gallery on a concrete plinth that can be used for cover. But the Limited Edition came in a box which destroyed the game disc.
A disaster wrapped in a brand inside a cash-in.
The steel disc case couldn't hold the disc, elevating "you had one job" to simulated-reality-destroying levels. The game disc would come loose in transit and scratch itself, as if it would rather die than be played. This was the disc sold especially to advance-ordering players, which means that many of them stayed up for the midnight launch and spent twice the normal price of the game for a self-destructing copy. And while they were busy yelling at customer support, sane players were enjoying the game.
It's not like the Limited Edition did anything else to justify the disaster. It wasn't a Rube Goldberg device which went wrong and accidentally dropped the disc instead of serving it on an automated plate capable of oral sex underneath a controller. The metal box's only job was "get far more money for holding the game," and it still concentrated so hard on the first part that it utterly forgot about everything else. So it might be a shitty box for a game, but it was an Ecto Containment Unit for the entire spirit of modern AAA development.
Gears Of War looks like what would happen if geeks finally trapped the star quarterback in TRON, and he still kicked their asses. This is a game with an invisible flying robot, and they still pick that nerd shit last so that the football players can sweatily back-slap each other through pounding everything they see. The world of Sera is what would happen if interstellar travel was discovered by a frat trying to find a way to escape sexual harassment suits.
"We've only got a week to raise a million bullets, or the Locust Dean will close Sera Delta Sera!"
The Epic Edition included an art book, a resigned sigh at the use of the word "Epic," and a Marcus Fenix doll. Sorry, not a doll -- a shitty doll. They called it a "statue," because then you don't have to include articulation or any ability to play with it.
"Alas, what ails me now not even the bro-iest back-slap could cure."
The Epic Edition cost $150. That's a full hundred dollars extra for a book and the world's worst toy. We've mocked the He-Man Ram-man toy for being a single solid lump, but at least it could be picked up and waved around. The Fenix figurine is attached to a massive solid base to make it absolutely clear that this isn't anything entertaining. It's a shrine to wasted money. It's an inverted anti-Thinker, a violent thug whose only purpose is to make its beholder wonder what they're doing with their lives.
"I lean my hands on a gun barrel and my crotch against a chainsaw because I'm THAT SMART."
There's nothing wrong with buying dolls. I'm writing this between an Optimus Prime and Thunderbird 2. But paying twice as much for few inches of plastic fictional character should only screw you if it's a sex toy.
This F.3.A.R. doll makes Marcus Fenix look intelligent, and he's a character who clearly misspelled his own name and looks like two fridges had a kid who dropped out of school. This is the world's worst household decoration: An emaciated naked woman whose pregnancy glows in the dark. It's possible this was a secret voodoo project to keep fans permanently single to ensure they would buy more sequels.
And when this is the only other human figure in your life, you turn into a Batman villain.
It's not just a creepy toy; it's a vortex of inexplicable horror. Any attempt to justify this statue has to begin with "It's okay. She's evil and her psychic birth pains rupture an entire city of nightmare," and you'll have to speak pretty loudly for them to hear you over the slamming doors and screaming for help. It's a game about how a woman becoming pregnant causes the actual end of the world. Because gamers aren't known for subtlety.
"Also, we need a priest to bless a storm and ask God to guide it over a certain toy factory."
This isn't a collector's edition. This is a company trying to transfer a curse. I don't think you're even allowed to throw these out -- and if you try, you get the bill for sending garbage workers to seminary school. You normally have to burn and inhale plastic to turn it into this much stupidity.
The theory behind collector's editions is based on overestimating how much people like a game, and the reality means diverting effort to bullshit instead of finishing it. It's not just polishing the brass on the Titanic -- it's selling commemorative "Unsinkable" handkerchiefs made of chopped-up iceberg reports.
Perfect Dark happened when Rare made GoldenEye, lost the Bond license, and decided to make an even cooler game without it. Perfect Dark Zero was an almost perfectly eponymous sequel: the original name plus nothing else. It was rushed through development to become an Xbox 360 launch title. The AI acted like it had forgotten what it was doing halfway through DIY brain surgery, the main challenge was working out where you were meant to go next, and your controls lumbered and twitched like you didn't fit in your own body any more. Though all that might have been a masterful simulation of how the main character had been reduced from an elite British agent to a teenager.
"Complain about me saying 'like' one more time. I dare you. I, like, totes dare you."
Rare still had time to develop the worst extras since a pre-infected second appendix. It wasn't just the effrontery of charging more for a game which should have come with a booklet of apologies, or possibly gold stars for effort. It was getting one of nine holographic "collectible" cards. Were players meant to buy the game eight more times? Were they meant to find other owners online and go multiplayer Highlander?
Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images
Making your new shooter more tedious than Solitaire.
But the worst cash-grabbing extras ever included, in anything, ever, was the first chapter of the Perfect Dark: Initial Vector tie-in novel. Not the entire book. Just a preview. You were paying multiples of the original price for an advert for the only less-playable Perfect Dark ever made.
We started with Call Of Duty, and we'll end with Call Of Duty. For lo, it has become the Alpha and Omega of the gaming industry, and when the dark angel blows her last trumpet, she'll have to buy the Extreme Apocalypse Edition to get the seventh seal to break and usher in the final death match between good and evil.
"Well OF COURSE we're camping. That's what we do"
Black Ops III tries so hard to be cool that it comes with its own refrigeration system. The "Juggernog" is a 200-dollar mini-fridge which happens to include the actual game. It's designed to hold 12 mini-cans. Because it's specifically designed to waste as much packaging on pointless little shit as possible. And the idea of releasing a single large container holding everything is now heresy for DLC developers.
Can you identify the most pointless bullshit in this picture? It's harder than it looks!
Then you get a set of themed coasters. You're getting collectible bullshit for your collectible bullshit. And this is all "collectible" in the same way that roadkill is collectible: You can do it, but you're an idiot and desperately need something else to do.
You're not buying a special edition of the game; you're getting the game free with an appliance you'd otherwise never buy. You're telling the publisher, "I will pay 400 percent more for branded bullshit than I will for an actual game". Their own promotion video has Treyarch employees poking the thing on a bar, because sometimes you need a stiff drink before going through with earning a paycheck.
Buying AAA games on launch day is how you tell companies that you don't care whether it's good or not. But paying extra for the privilege is how you tell them that they're not screwing you hard enough.
Crappy collectable statues aren't the only dick moves video game companies pull. See the most torturous game designs possible in The 6 Biggest Dick Moves In The History Of Video Game Design. And check out how you might as well join a country club with the amount of money it takes to play Tiger Woods PGA Tour in 5 Video Game DLC So Bad They Should Be Considered Scams.
Also follow us on Facebook. It's like Cracked's version of DLC, but free! Take that, EA! (Just kidding, EA. Please don't hurt us.)
The main benefit of watching TV is seeing the plight of sad bastards who aren't you.
The 'wellness' market is thriving right now.
Most people have a pretty basic idea of what it's like to be a parent.
There's no shortage of downright absurd conspiracy theories out there.
Instead of rebooting and recasting, we have a chance for something new.