Sunday, August 7, 2011

Skyrim Collector's Edition = Not Worth It

Featuring a map you recieve when you pre-order, a DVD Making of which will end up on YouTube, an overpriced artbook, and a giant fucking, but albeit impressive, statue.
News from the money-hungry company that is trying to sue Minecraft over the use of the word 'Scroll'! The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of the most anticipated games of the year, and fans of the Elder Scrolls series have been waiting all year to see what Bethesda would deliver in terms of a Collector's Edition of the game. At QuakeCon 2011, over the weekend, the Collector's Edition was finally announced, and boy, does it suck. Here's the press-release from Bethesda's blog:

"The limited collector’s edition for The Elder Scrolls® V: Skyrim™ will be available for Xbox 360, PS3, and Games for Windows and can be pre-ordered now through participating retailers in North America, Europe and Australia. Like the regular release of the game, the Collector’s Edition will be available on 11.11.11
In addition to including the highly-anticipated game, this premium version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim also includes... Alduin Statue...‘The Art of Skyrim’ Official Art Book...and 'The Making of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’ DVD.
The Collector’s Edition will be available through pre-order and it retails for $149.99 (US), €149.99 (Europe), £129.99 (UK), and A$199.99 (Australia). If you’re interested in purchasing, we recommend you pre-order asap, as the it will be available in extremely limited quantities."

Bethesda have always had an absymal record when it comes to producing quality Collector's Editions of their wonderful games. I pre-ordered Skyrim back in February when I returned from overseas, and put down some extra money and asked to be put on the list for the Collector's Edition as soon as it was released. When I saw the price was going to set me back $200 my jaw dropped, but I talked myself into thinking it was totally worth it. A big, fucking statue... yeah, I've been a huge Elder Scrolls fan so I may as well go for it. As it turns out, Electronics Boutique Australia branches only received  around 6 copies per store, so I'm not going to be receiving a copy anyway. I was relieved, since now I can put that non-existent money aside to make sure I can buy people nice Christmas presents, but at usual, I'm pretty sore that I didn't have a chance to get my hands on it and I'm exceptionally disappointed with the content. While some holier-than-thou figures will just brush over this and say "Tsk tsk, then don't buy it!" I think it's reasonable to say I'm not happy with the Skyrim Collector's Edition, and here's why.

The Price:
Let's start with the price. Bethesda is an American based company, so the rest of the world will base our prices on what's set before us, which is essentially $150 US dollars. Except the numbers don't actually add up.

USA pays $149.99; Europe pays €149.99; UK pays £129.99; Australia pays $199.99.

So let's take a look at the price of Skyrim if every consumer in the world paid the same price, first looking at the price a specific region pays, then converted into the price of the other areas.

Europe (€149.99): $214.23(US) /£130.68(UK)/ $204.94(AUS)
UK (£129.99): $213.99(US)/€149.19(EU)/$203.86(AUS)
Australia ($199.99): $209.05(US)/£127.52(UK)/€146.36(EU)

Woah! Look at those outrageously high sums of money! So what would we all pay if we were just matching the American price?

USA $149.99: £91.49(UK)/€105(Europe)/$143.48(AUS)

People in the UK would save £40, Europeans would save €45, and Australians would save $50. Australia in particular is used to being raped up the ass when it comes to importing new games (with new PC games being $100, XBox 360 paying around $110 depending on what game), but in this case Europe is paying the highest amount for this collector's edition. Australians are paying over twice the price of the original! As it happens, Zenimax (the parent company of Bethesda) is trying to squeeze out as much money as they can. The digital edition of Skyrim is almost €100 in Ireland, and the Australian/New Zealand digital price on Steam is $89 USD. Unbelievable. Just because this is one of the highest anticipated games, Zenimax thinks they should make an effort to make this the most expensive game in history?

The Content:
Okay, okay, so the price is high. That would all be forgiven if the content of the collector's edition would be worth it. The problem is that it's clearly not. In addition to the game, this Collector's Edition gives us:
  • A synthetic burlap (read: not cloth) map - which is included with all releases of the game to people who pre-ordered it.
  •  A 12 inch PVC model of Alduin
  • A Making of DVD
  • A 200 page art-book.
That just isn't worth the retail price of $200. Seriously, who the fuck priced that? Did Bethesda even notice what other games offered in their collector's editions? Here are two other Collector's Editions of their respective games.

The Witcher 2 Collector's Edition:
Contained, in addition to the original game (Skyrim equivalent highlighted):
  • A Making of DVD
  • Original game soundtrack and additional music
  • The game map
  • The strategy guide
  • Real life replicas of in-game items 
  • Two papercraft dolls
  • A bust head sculpture made from replica marble
  • 200 page art-book
  • A set of dice
  • Deck of playing cards with unique artwork
  • Stickers
  • One huge papercraft cutout
  • An exclusive DLC download
  • All packaged in a thick cardboard case
How much do you think that would cost if all that was included with Skyrim? $300? $400? 
Current retail price: $89.91

Mass Effect 3 Collector's Edition:
 Okay, so the example of the Witcher is pretty extreme - games are rarely that generous. Let's look at a game by Bioware and see what they offer. Contained, in addition to the original game:
  • 70 page art-book
  • Limited Edition 'Dark Horse' comic
  • Premium Fabric N7 Patch
  • 4x6' lithograph print
  • Original soundtrack
  • Forum avatars and social badges
  • All packaged in a premium metal case
Not as flashy as The Witcher 2, but a shitload more that Skyrim. How much would you price that at? $150? $200?
Current retail price: $79.99
The bottom line is that Skyrim's Collector's Edition bonus material are unsatisfactory, and they are not worthy of the gargantuan price tag of $200. The content is inferior to the last Collector's Edition I bought (Guild Wars Nighfall which I purchased for $25). Compared to other companies and game releases, Skyrim's content pales severely in comparison, and that's not good enough at such a ludicrous cost.

The Summary:
I am very annoyed with the Skyrim Collector's Edition. Clearly the fact that I've not been able to secure myself a copy has influenced my stance on this (although to be honest, nothing is stopping them producing more), I think it's disappointing that Bethesda have been so stingy with their content and the price is unfair. The fact that a small quantity has been produced will also assure Zenimax that there will be no financial loss, but it would be such an anticlimax to pay such a huge sum of money and unsatisfying that nothing really comes out of the product.

Regardless, this Collector's Edition will sell at no loss. Plenty of fans, myself included, would gladly shell over the cash and find satisfaction in the fact that they're supporting Bethesda and the Elder Scrolls (some of the best games in the world), and to have the satisfaction of saying they own such an exclusive product. Skyrim will no doubt be a brilliant game that will be innovative and groundbreaking, but I sure wish more people could have a chance to access this product. Would it have killed them to add some more features? What about the wonderful soundtrack? A gimmicky USB? Before anyone says "just import it!", I ask where from, since Amazon doesn't ship overseas and Australia is suffering from EB apparently being the exclusive seller. I want to support Bethesda, but I can't afford the price - and there isn't an option for me.

And just think - all of this has happened after Todd Howard commented that the industry would benefit if games were sold at around $29. Except for Skyrim, which fit into more of a $60 range. But then they released a $200 Collector's Edition of their game. Mon dieu. We can always find solace in one last hope, of course:
 "WELL at least you can probably guarantee that the collectors edition will be all over the net at $500 a piece after the release date" - Maddy
No doubt something to look forward to.

'The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim' Collector’s Edition will be available through pre-order and in select retails for $149.99 (US), €149.99 (Europe), £129.99 (UK), and A$199.99 (Australia) for release on the 11th of November, 2011.

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