Do Games Need Multiple Special Editions?

It’s fairly common for a high profiled game to have a Special Edition and a Collector’s Edition. Consumers like bonus items that justify paying more money for a product and publishers like to get as much money as they can from that same product. In most cases, these special editions have in-game content and physical goodies on top of the standard game. Special Editions are great because they are, as the name suggests, special. That appeal is lost when a game has three, or maybe even four, different editions that only have slight variances.

Ignoring  the pricing of special and collector’s editions and only focusing on the bonus items they offer, what is the point of having more than, say, two special editions? Splinter Cell: Blacklist, as of right now, has five special editions –including one that comes with a plane—spread across the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. That’s insane. Now, sure, two of these are exclusive to certain regions and one can only be obtained through Uplay, but five (total) special editions are too much.

The 5th Freedom Edition (which is exclusive to Game in the UK and Gamestop in Ireland) comes with a bunch of in-game weapons, suits and other gear for Sam Fisher, a graphic novel, a steelbook case and a figure of the man himself. Meanwhile, the 5th Freedom Silver Edition comes with all the things I just mentioned, but the steelbook and figure are now silver. And this one is a Uplay exclusive. What’s the problem with only offering the Silver Edition to any and all people that want to buy it and eliminating the regular Freedom Edition entirely? It’s complicating something that doesn’t need to be hard. The money that went into making those oh-so-different Freedom Editions could’ve been used for something more useful. Like, another Watch_Dogs special edition, because it couldn’t possibly be content with five of its own.

Watch_Dogs Special Editions

Wow, look at all that red.

I look at Grand Theft Auto V and The Last of Us as two examples that got it right. They each have two editions outside of their standard editions, they were both revealed at the same time and there are reasons for both to exist.

The Last of Us had a Survival Edition that came with your usual special edition-y stuff and the Sights & Sound DLC, and a Post-Pandemic Edition that had everything from the Survival Edition, a statue and the Survival DLC pack. In fact, the Post-Pandemic Edition, despite having the better items, was missing the hardcover art book found in its lesser counterpart. That’s how you do special editions right: Make them different enough to warrant their respective existences. Grand Theft Auto V is doing the same with its traditionally name special and collector’s editions, but it definitively has the more practical/useful physical items, as it comes with a security deposit bag, hat and map of the whole game.

I feel the need to say that I have no problems with special editions; they’re great for those that want to put in the extra bit of money and get some cool stuff, but games don’t need any more than two. The simple fact that Ubisoft is releasing five of these for both Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Watch_Dogs is the definition of silly. Why do with five what you can do with two?

Too many special editions for one game and you only end up cannibalizing yourself. You lose money in the process which, if I had to guess, is the exact opposite of what most want.

So don’t overdo it; keep it simple. Keep it to a small, manageable amount. Do something special instead of doing too much because you think you have to.

Is there any harm in that?

{Sources/Information Courtesy of: VG247, SplinterCell.ubi.com, Rockstar Games Newswire and the PlayStation Blog}

{Watch_Dogs Special Editions chart courtesy of Wikipedia}