Once upon a time, the words “special” and “collector” meant something when they came attached to a videogame release. Back then, special releases were still few and far between, and something that seemed to attract only the diehard fans, the hardcore gamers, and the uber-collectors in the world that had extra cash to spare. Nowadays, everybody and their mother has a collector’s edition and even some game developers — like Japan’s Atlus — have resorted to releasing some of their games exclusively in special release format. A great example of this is last year’s RPG hit, Persona 3, a PS2 game which was only purchasable in a $40 box set.
Inclusion of the phrase “Collector’s Edition” usually mean a couple things, and game publishers tend to mix and match the various options in the hopes of providing a special edition with its own flavor.
- It will come in some crazy box. Whether the box is made of some sculpted, light-weight aluminum alloy or is huge treasure crate large enough to carry a small child in, this option seems to be a must for special releases across the board. Holograms, bling, crazy box art, embossed pleather — you name it, a collector’s edition somewhere has got to have it.
- It will come with an artbook of some kind, packed full of background art that you will not want. Where are the chapters on character design and creature creation? Where’s the storyboard that gave birth to all that hot alien-lady love? That’s the concept art you know we all want to be checking out more. Because of the deceptively weighty addition to paper to the bundle, this will subliminally convince you there is more awesomeness in the collector’s edition than there really is.
- It will come with an official soundtrack. More often that not, if it’s got an OST attached, it’s from Japan, though stranger things have happened. This shiny extra is usually the wild card in the bunch and can range from 60 minutes of awesomeness to something that sounds more like the worst playlist ever. Proceed with caution.
- If you’re really lucky, it will come with some sort of plasticine statuette, book ends, or bauble — something that, when you get it home and rip open the package, it makes you wish you still had your old eBay account and hey, wouldn’t it be a good time for a garage sale?
So, why all this talk about Collector’s Editions? Well, according to a press release issued by Funcom, one of this year’s long-awaited MMO releases — Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures — has completely sold out of its Collector’s Edition in the United States. That’s right, folks, if you were hoping to shell out ninety bucks to get your hands on a copy of that massive shiny red box you’re sore out of luck.
According to the statement, many US markets had already sold out in the months following the announcement of the edition’s release, and in response, a second run of boxes were made. These, however, have also sold out — bringing the total number of editions sold and accounted for at 111,000. Peanuts, you might say, given the numbers behind its long-standing competition, but factor in the additional 700,000 expected to ship out on day one, and you have the beginnings of an impressive start off the line.
Morten Larssen, Funcom’s VP of Sales & Marketing: “Everyone in Funcom is delighted and humbled with the historical pre-order numbers for Age of Conan. If the information we have is correct, they represent the highest pre-order number for any global launch of an original PC game, ever, including the original World of Warcraft launch.”
For those of you curious on exactly what you’re missing out on, Age of Conan, the Collector’s Edition comes with all of the usual whistles and bells, with just a couple of little surprises:
- Metal Embossed Cover
- Actual Poem Written by Robert E. Howard
- 128-page Art Book
- The Conan Soundtrack
- Professionally Crafted Leather Map of Hyboria
- Bonus DVD with Various Footage
- Five Buddy Keys
- In-Game Item – “Ring of Asheron” – Gives 2% XP Modifier and 3% Stamina Regeneration
- In-Game Item – “The Drinking Cape” – Free Drinks for Life!
Perhaps the item that seems most exciting to most players is the last one — “The Drinking Cape” — which ensures the wearer free drinks everywhere in the Age of Conan world. Who cares, you may ask? Well apparently, drunken brawling will be included as one of the game’s PVP minigames, and having to partake in the love without having to dip into your hard-earned cash is always welcome. For those of us who weren’t quick enough on the draw, however, we’ll just have to bite the bullet pay for the next round ourselves.
[See also: Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures gallery]