Special-edition video games have always left something to be desired. One title, however, may have beaten out all the rest. Capcom will bank on fans' enthusiasm for Resident Evil 6 by releasing a premium edition of the game this October. The items seem…promising. The bundle will include the game, one of four character-designed cellphone cases, and Leon's jacket. Price: 105,000 yen. But Capcom should just sell the game and leave Leon's jacket in its closet.
The premium edition will be available in Japan only, although it may come to the United States. If it doesn't come Stateside, Americans can import it for $1,300. Of course, Capcom's most devoted fans will pay thousands for the package. Meanwhile, the majority of gamers will be satisfied with just owning the game itself because they can't afford a special edition, they recognize the uselessness of the bundle, or both. The cellphone cases included in the package may be useful, but the biggest reason for the hefty price tag — Leon's jacket — may not have practical value.
What can a gamer do with a replica of Leon's jacket? Use it for cosplay, sure. But how often would they cosplay as Leon? To get the full value of the jacket, they'd have to cosplay everyday and make sure plenty of people see them. Take a lot of pictures, too. And post them on Facebook. Then and only then will the money have been well-spent.
In retrospect, if a devoted fan paid thousands of dollars for the jacket, would they even want to wear it outside? I wouldn't. Most people like to keep their expensive new stuff looking, well, new. Imagine someone wearing Leon's jacket in the comfort of their home while playing Resident Evil 6. Makes more sense than wearing it in the snow or rain. But it's probably safer to just seal the jacket in a case and then mount it on a wall.
Time passes, though. Things that are great at the beginning slowly lose their perceived value. Five years ago, I bought my first katana from a flea market. I unsheathed it every day to admire its pristine craftsmanship. I even pretended to be a samurai a few times. But after a few months, the katana just became another object on my desk. All emotional value in it had faded.
Perhaps the mentality of a hardcore gamer is very different from my own; maybe their emotional tie to Leon's jacket will last longer than mine did with the katana. A year from Resident Evil 6's release, will those who forked over extra cash for the "premium edition" still look at Leon's jacket with fondness? Will they wear the jacket? Will they even be playing the game?
I can understand that Capcom wants to do something special for their fans while getting extra money on the side. I can understand that fans want to show devotion to Resident Evil while making their friends jealous. But Resident Evil 6 will be great even without a special edition. The game will sell over a million units and win a bunch of awards. That's what counts.
Publishers shouldn't add any more stuff to a game than necessary — or, even worse, repackage an older game, include a bunch of stuff, and then call it "Game of the Year Edition"…as if the new version is more valuable than the original. Developers work hard on these games. That's what gamers want and that's what they should get.
True devotion to a video game does not rest in having a statue, three art books, a making-of DVD, and a sleek, metal video game case. True devotion is pre-ordering a game. True devotion is showing up at a local shop for the midnight release. True devotion is playing the game for several hours at the risk of losing sleep and missing work because it's just that good.
Gamers shouldn't buy the special editions of their favorite video games unless the items in the bundle have practical use (good luck with that).