Reverse Collector’s Edition

Like any good subject, Blizzard’s latest online purchase for World of Warcraft, the Celestial Steed (i.e., the Sparklepony) created a lot of back and forth commentary around the blogosphere.  Thankfully, some clarity poked through the clouds.  Guild Wars also released another buyable costume set for the War in Kryta chapter of Guild Wars Beyond.  Parallel discussions of item-worth, self-worth, happiness, and greed occurred on all affected forums.

Yet, when a collector’s edition for an untried, over-hyped (read: untrue) MMO drops for $30 more than the commoner’s edition, there is barely a peep.  It seems that collector’s editions can contain nearly any in-game bonus, and unless it provides game breaking balance issues, the bonuses are merely seen as value added to the collector’s edition.

The last collector’s edition I bought was for Warhammer Online, which came with a pewter miniature, a graphic novel, in-game appearance items, in-game exclusive quests, and an in-game buff!  The buff, Librams of Insight, gives a player +15% experience, Renown, and Influence for two hours, and it was usable three times.  That means by paying an extra $30, a collector’s edition player was going to be objectively better than a commoner’s edition player for at least 6 hours.  Yet, the masses shrugged.  People talked about the visual look of the exclusive appearance items or how they were going to paint the pewter miniature with regard to the worth of paying up to the collector’s edition.

Another collector’s edition I remember was for Guild Wars Factions.  There was a big shipping error at the base level so players having preordered the collector’s edition would not get them for an untold time beyond launch.  Being a rabid fan, I went out and bought the commoner’s edition.  Then a few months later I re-bought the game by adding a collector’s edition code to my same account.  I already had the Prophecies collector’s edition (complete with sparkly hands) on that account, and I wanted the Factions collector’s edition on the same account.  It was worth spending $120 for what I wanted.

Here’s what I see, when people with the collector’s edition sparklies are noticed, the commoners, who have since put a lot of stock into the MMO, want the ability to gain sparklies as well.  I cannot count the amount of times I have seen a Guild Wars player suggest that ArenaNet sell the Prophecies collector’s edition sparkly hands.  Well, Blizzard did just that for World of Warcraft players.

Blizzard gave players the option to buy a reverse collector’s edition.  Players finding tons of value in World of Warcraft could now buy the feeling of the attachment that normally only came with the collector’s edition.  Latecomers could now buy something special.  And, there was heavy outrage:  It’s a waste of company resources.  It’s too expensive.  Too many people will have them for it to be special.  And, my favorite eye-roller, players should be donating this money to a good cause instead.  This outrage was over a mere appearance item.

Now, imagine that an MMO company chose instead to sell a  one-time reverse collector’s edition containing the in-game items contained in the Warhammer Online collector’s edition including the Librams of Insight.  The internet would explode.  This hypocrisy is absolutely amazing to me.  My thoughts are that the feeling of attachment that is used to sell things like the Celestial Steed and War in Kryta costumes is a double-edged sword with “fairness” protectionists on the other side.  No one cares much what is in the collector’s edition because no one is yet that attached to the game that has not gone live.  There are not yet any defenders of morality embedded in the community.

People that have bought the collector’s editions for a successful game are viewed with silent jealousy like a lucky investor that caught wind of a lucky stock before the market changed.  People that buy sparkleponies are viewed with open derision as if the buyer was a spoiled trust fund baby flaunting the Porsche he did not earn.

I wish this hypocrisy would stop.  I like this type of reverse collector’s edition because it gives the player the option to buy something special when the player safely feels that it is worth becoming more attached to the game.  I don’t even want to count the amount of collector’s editions I own, that I bought as some sort of risky bet that the game would be good, that are now gathering dust.  Yet, developers be warned, if these reverse collector’s editions purchases become too commonplace then the special feeling that I think these purchases are riding upon will dissipate.  For now, I think that Blizzard and ArenaNet are doing a good job pacing themselves.

–Ravious
got no time for grousers

18 thoughts on “Reverse Collector’s Edition”

  1. I can only speak for myself. I tend to buy Collector’s Editions for the fancy boxes and everything that’s in them – getting a fun pet (as in WoW, for example) is just a bonus. I like having them on my gaming shelf. They are worth that money by generally being big, a bit more costly to produce and look cool. That’s not to say that I haven’t been disappointed with some of them.

    If the “collector’s edition” would be the exact same thing as the ordinary package, but with a pet added in for $25 extra…then I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. :) That’s why I don’t buy “digital limited editions”, because I can’t really see what is limited about them.

    1. True, but since only an established game such as WoW and GW could pull this off, perhaps the “increased” price is due to The Brand. So in a CE this mount might be only worth $5-10 because it might be a risky purchase.

      Honestly, I think the whole pricing issue is superficial at best. What is more interesting to me is why people are buying them, and how it compares to CEs. :)

  2. I have no problems with this sort of thing. In the case of the sparklepony, I don’t think it is worth the money and thus I did not buy it. I don’t care if others buy it either except for the fact I have to see them everywhere right now, because I think they are quite awful to have to look at. The way I see it is that it is a free market. They can try to sell things and the consumers will respond as they will. It all works out in the end.

    After all, it is just a game.

    As for the CEs, I generally buy them because I love things like art books and soundtracks. Extra items are just a bonus. I don’t even play on my WoW CE account any more, where I had the bonus pets. My Guild Wars account has the CE sparkle hands but I almost never show them off. I also have the LotRO CE, WAR CE and the AoC CE.

  3. I still disagree with your comparison.

    Once I pay for that collectors edition, I get a nice box and some additional items. For example, at least 90% of the CE’s come with soundtracks, which alone can be 10-15 bucks.

    Yet, here, you buy a pony in the game for more than the monthly cost of the game (CE’s for example are no more than 10-20 bucks for a “physical” product) and if you ever do not pay for the game, you lose access to that horse (again, for comparison, you used Guild Wars, which costs nothing after the initial box price, thus is far and away the better deal).

    So far the horse STILL smacks of greed, and those who have money to throw away have shown Activision that most anyone will pay for anything…and I smell armor, gold, potions or other knick knacks coming down the pipe as sale-able items.

    1. “get a nice box” hee hee

      But, who is greedier the players or the company? There is a good book called Soul of a Chef, where one restaurant Lola provides pretty modern American fare. Customers kept asking for filet mignon, one of the sorriest cuts of beef IMHO, which they didn’t sell. Finally they put it on the menu to appease their customers. It would be the first entree Lola had that would be priced over $20. So who is greedier?

      1. Did it state how much they had to pay for the cost of the “filet”?
        What was the loss/gain versus costs of selling this product?
        There is a lot more I am not hearing that could help that comparison more..

        Lets try it this way.

        How much did it cost Blizzard to make the horse (I have seen figures bandied about, but no real cost analysis).
        Did they then average out how many would buy the horse (when ANY company starts calculating costs, they do a cost analysis / risk), divide that cost and then do a …say 30% mark up.
        Lets say one amount I heard was 500k to make the horse (sounds out there…but ok)…so, lets say right now WoW has about 5 million players (after the loss of China…which of course we know some are still playing, but on US or Euro servers)…so, only 10% would have to pay $1.00 to pay for the horse. The rest is profit. Easy Squeezy.

        Activision could have easily sold the horse for $5.00 or even 10.00 (2 to 4 million in profit) for an unheard of markup (500% to 1000%?).

        Nope…instead they did a 2500% markup on this product.

        Ok…so, the other argument I heard is that customers demanded the horse.

        Cool.

        Who demanded $25.00? What if we demanded $5.00? Would they change it?

        BTW, as to the nice box…uh, have you SEEN the Age of Conan CE? That is an awesome box to hold the oversized book on the history of Conan, soundtrack, and map, that looks cool on a shelf.

        That was worth the extra $10 bucks I paid.

          1. No. Because if this WAS basic economics, Blizzard would have competition within their market genre.

            They have none.

            Profits for Activision= total greed
            not
            Profit vs Need

            If a price comparison was made, the closest that they get is say…Runes of Magic …who sells a horse for $20.00. But, then the cost of “renting” the horse after payment = ZERO.
            Renting the horse still costs the consumer after payment of horse in WoW.

            There is no doubt that the customer is to blame for purchasing the horse. People with too much money to blow are the ones who set the precedent.
            But, the cost vs profit argument truly helps shine a light on this market for the future.

            Activision has found it can set whatever value they wish to their virtual product when there is no comparison, and there will always be a market here for those who cannot control their expenditures.

            1. I really think the huge fuss is about pricing the item…

              If it was $1 I think everyone would get it. So what does $25 make a difference… except to ensure that “not” everyone gets it?

              I mean… if you want the sparklepony, buy it by all means. If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. This is pretty basic economics.

              Finally, I really fail to see why WOW (a closed economy in itself) has to justify its pricing to RoM. Are you suggesting that instead of buying the sparklepony in wow, I could have bought an equivalent pony in RoM?

              1. I don’t have any friends in RoM
              2. I don’t play RoM
              3. I don’t see how buying a mount in RoM would help my WOW experience.

              the list goes on and on…

              anyway, I foresee myself playing wow for _years_ to come. I’ve already played 5 years and shows no sign of hating the game. I’ve taken my breaks and bought and played other games, got married, have kids, and yet returned time and time again.

              5 years ago, I would have $200 to get a collector’s edition instead of my normal wow account. But I can’t. I never had the chance – my local stores in Australia never had the collector’s editions.

              I also find this insulting:
              > who cannot control their expenditures

              I happen to have enough income to support myself, my house, my wife (who does not work), and a kid. In fact, I asked my wife if she wants a pony too and she says OK. So I bought two. Her account is currently inactive, so I have an extra code waiting for her time to be freed up from the kid.

              If you want to talk about waste of money, well, the majority of people on this very planet would think spending money to be on the Internet is an absolute waste – they could buy extra bread with that money, or get an education, or water. I really don’t think it’s fair to yourself or anyone else if you judge other people’s spending based on your own values.

            2. Like Ravious arguments, I feel there are holes you are not considering.

              “I really think the huge fuss is about pricing the item…”

              [You are right. If the item was even $5 or $10…there would not be an issue. It doesn’t even have anything to do with pricing it out of the means of customers. What the price point has created is Activision devaluing their product. Even though YOU have disposable income to toss around, do you feel the virtual pixels of the horse (strictly in the game for “looks” as it serves no other purpose) is worth MORE than 30 days of gameplay? If you feel that is ok, then think of buying a tire for a car. You pay $20,000 for the car, but lets say a company wants to charge $10,000 for each tire.

              YOU do the math.]

              “…I really fail to see why WOW (a closed economy in itself) has to justify its pricing to RoM. Are you suggesting that instead of buying the sparklepony in wow, I could have bought an equivalent pony in RoM?

              1. I don’t have any friends in RoM
              2. I don’t play RoM
              3. I don’t see how buying a mount in RoM would help my WOW experience.

              the list goes on and on…

              [It is not justification, but comparison.
              Lets say you go to the Doctor and one offers you the same price as the other Doctor. But, for one Doctor, after you pay an initial fee, you also have to pay them per minute…all because your friends go there?
              Should that Doctor be allowed to charge per minute, or should a cap be set on what that Doctor should be allowed to do?
              It is more than just this comparison (which I know really does not fit well, but argues the point of setting standards)…it is this;
              By setting this price, and people like you with disposable income to spare on pixels, buying it, have set a precedent for the rest of the market. Now a greatly affordable entertainment item will start to be priced out of the realm of those who CAN afford it. And not just that. Even if they do not price the game itself beyond peoples means, the game could feel the effects of pricing for those who have cash. Items like armor, potions for XP, levels even, could all be priced for consumption.
              Then a “competitive” game becomes a true have and have not situation. Have you never argued “balance” in your game of choice? Imagine what happens when this takes place.]

              “I also find this insulting:
              > who cannot control their expenditures
              If you want to talk about waste of money, well, the majority of people on this very planet would think spending money to be on the Internet is an absolute waste – they could buy extra bread with that money, or get an education, or water.”

              [This argument has huge holes.
              First, if you need to decide between Internet and Food, then the argument instantly becomes ridiculous and has no bearing on a “Sparkly Pony”. Even though the Internet is not priced out of the means of most incomes (Basic net can set you back the same price as WoW), those who need to decide between bread or Internet, must choose the former. But, basic wage earners can have Internet.
              As to a waste for those who can afford it, I also argue this. Internet is NOT a luxury item anymore. I get a product which has a means to help my son study for school, allows me a job (as I do various work that requires net access, including web development), helps me alleviate the use of trees by doing paperless billing…so much more. And, discussion is underway to help those who need to buy bread get Internet at minimal or even no fees.
              Why? Because it is becoming a NEED.
              Using the Internet as a waste comparison versus a “virtual” horse that serves no purpose except for looks, is truly a non-argument, and you lose instantly.

              Find a better argument tool]

              “I really don’t think it’s fair to yourself or anyone else if you judge other people’s spending based on your own values.”

              [Overall, I think you miss the point of the argument. Spend the money if you wish…just know what this creates in future money making schemes for Activision and the “DLC” system.

              But, I have already explained that…

              Let me just say… you are talking to someone with disposable income as well. I pay for 3 game accounts for my family to play an MMO (a means of entertainment and avoids using television as a medium to alleviate stress, oh, and is NOT WoW). I have Internet (a need due to work and my sons learning). I go out to eat (comparable costs versus turning on the stove and using electricity)…so, all of these could be considered waste, but they are not as each serves a purpose. Sustenance, learning, my job and my entertainment to de-stress…

              The “Sparkly Ponies” comparison is more along the lines of smoking or drinking. Each are not a need, and if anything a waste. But, as well, they are dangerous.
              Smoking causes lung cancer, and is an addiction.
              Drinking can kill you, and is an addiction.
              Sparkly Ponies set dangerous precedents for future pricing, and WoW is an addiction…and it kills me to see such waste.

              To think that Activisions greed will not exponentially raise the bar for cost versus value is just being blind…just like Smokers are to lung cancer or Drinkers are to Liver poisoning or drinking and driving.

              Anyways, hope the “Sparkly Pony” serves you well]

            3. I think you would be well served in taking Economics 101 (and most importantly, understanding it). You would then need to spend less time furiously typing essays about the sheer injustice of people spending their dispoable income on nonessentials.

              Comparing optional completely non-essential digital content to smoking and cancer is just ridiculous hyperbole and frankly pathetic.

  4. And that’s why i hope a headset with gw2 logo is included in the GW2 CE. :) Still using the one from GW1 CE in GW, a little worn out but hey it works…
    I love de collector’s edition, much important it’s you say indirectly: hey devs thanx for the hard work.

    And for the SB/WM costumes, its my way of saying: i support development of GW2, like a sponsorship, thanx anet. A free to play game needs resources too if we want to have fun in the near future. It´s not only a game you buy, it´s also a fantasy game with it´s sepecific characteristics and untold lore you are experiencing and for a lot of people living.

    Thanx to those publishers-marketing guys to be creative.

    ps. I´m wondering what the contents will be of GW2 CE! Hint to anet…heh heh

  5. “I don’t care if others buy it either except for the fact I have to see them everywhere right now, because I think they are quite awful to have to look at.”

    I don’t currently play WoW but if I have any objection to Sparklepony that’s it in a nutshell. The last straw for me on Oasis server in EQ2, where a server merge dumped me after my beloved Steamfont closed, was not being able to get to the bells on the dock in Nektulos Forest for the clutter of characters riding the quested flying carpet from the Desert of Flames expansion.

    That wasn’t a purchased item but it was a “must-have” at that time and you couldn’t turn around without seeing yet another hunched-over high-elf on a floating rug. I moved to Test where the population was one man and a dog and the dog was dead just for abit of peace and quiet.

    Maybe Blizzard could sell an item that allows you not to see the pony at all.

  6. I just love this debate. I never knew that World of Warcraft had such a ethical & utopian fanbase.

    I can’t really imagine that while watching an episode of ‘Cribs’ on MTV you would checking will see a Celestial Steed along side the Lamborghini. You may think that Blizzard have charged too much for it but over 100,000 people disagree with you.

    The players are not required to buy this virtual item in order to play and it does not give you an advantage over other players who don’t have it.

    Bottom line:If you think it’s too expensive or immoral then just don’t buy it!

  7. xp boosts ain’t no thing. All they are is time. That is a bonus that is overtaken by commoners.

    But good point about how messy it is, to sell a Sense of Entitlement.

  8. I was curious how this might tie in to the special items only available through the WoW collectible card game. I played the card game after I stopped playing the on-line game, and sold the loot items to pay for my cards. The most egregious example of this was the spectral tiger mount – I sold 3-4 of those over time at between $400-$700 a piece. It was just amazing what the market would bear for a vanity mount.

  9. Wtf. I only ever see them in Dalaran. I guess it would be a little jarring to see sparkly ponies out in the barrens, but I hardly see anyone there at the best of times.

    The haters just gave me a great idea: if they weren’t too expensive for me I’d buy one and troll noobs by following them in the starting areas with it. Bwahahaha.

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