04 September 2010

Collector's Editions for Casual Games?

I've noticed recently that many casual games are being released as collector's editions. Since these games are acquired mainly via download, a collector's edition (or CE) for a casual game isn't the same as what you would get with a console game. A CE for an XBox game, for example, may come with a plushie, an action figure, or a t-shirt. In the casual game realm, buying a CE usually means paying $20 for digital goodies like extra levels, desktop wallpaper, and a strategy guide or walkthrough of the game.

I've played a few CEs, but I still haven't made my mind up about them. From a gameplay aspect, I like having the strategy guide built into the game. I know that I will look for at least two hints during any game I play, so having them available in-game is easier than opening another browser tab or window. Having said that, I don't think the strategy guide alone is worth the extra $13 that a CE costs over the regular version. Yes, there are sometimes extra levels and desktop wallpaper included, but do you really consider that stuff collectible? I never even look at it. Also, sites like Gamezebo and Jay Is Games offer free walkthroughs that are as good as the ones offered in the CEs; some of the screenshots are identical.

Another thing to consider is how often you play games. My husband generally shies away from computer and console games, but the other day he decided he wanted a few games on his laptop to help him destress during breaks at work. I would suggest that he get a CE version of a game because the in-game hints would keep him from getting frustrated. On the other hand, my daughter C2 routinely finishes hidden-object games in three or four hours without ever using the strategy guide. The extras in a CE are wasted on an experienced player like her.

Whether you want to pay for extras with your game is a personal choice. I'm not going to say buying a CE is right or wrong. However, I do think that these packages should be called something else. To me, there isn't anything collectable about a digital download. Perhaps "enhanced version" might be a better name for them.

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