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18 ridiculous(ly expensive) video game special editions

Splinter Cell: Blacklist publisher Ubisoft recently announced a $170 special edition of the game that includes a remote-control plane. This package continues the game industry’s bizarre race to see who can release the biggest, most elaborate boxed set that people will still buy.

Blacklist’s Pint-Sized Paladin Edition (not its real name) isn’t the most opulent big-box around, and it’s far from the most expensive. Here are some of the most ridiculously expensive special editions ever released, in roughly ascending order.

Note: For comparative purposes, I’ve used sites like Exchange Rates and Currency UK to convert foreign currencies to the U.S. dollar. I calculated these values from the exchange rate on the day the game came out. Converted amounts for unreleased titles come from current rates, so these values are approximate.

Steins;Gate’s Double Pack Limited Edition

Cost: ¥18,690 (app. $202)

Steins;Gate

Steins;Gate is a Japan-exclusive visual novel about a group of teenagers who discover a way to send history-altering text messages back in time. It came out for the Xbox 360 in 2009, and a port for the PlayStation Vita comes out next month. Superfans can buy the “Double Pack” for the portable system, which includes the game, a disc of bonus content, an advance ticket to the upcoming Steins;Gate film, a metal hairpin, a ribbon choker, and the outfit you see in the above picture.

Are they real, human-sized clothes? I couldn’t really tell from my research, but I hope so, considering the price. You might wonder why anyone would pay so much for a game just to have an authentic version of a fictional character’s clothes. Keep that question in mind — we will revisit it later.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2′s Prestige Edition (UK)

Cost: £119.99 ($217)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Prestige Edition

One of the things we’re going to see repeatedly in this article is that things tend to cost more in the United Kingdom and Australia. That’s why the U.S. release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2′s Prestige Edition, which cost $149.99, is not on this list, but the UK version, which was almost 70 dollars more, is.

The two sets are exactly the same. They both include the game, a download for the original Call of Duty on Xbox Live Arcade or the PlayStation Network, an art book, those infamous night-vision goggles, and a mannequin head based on main character “Soap” MacTavish to store the specs on when you’re not re-enacting the end of The Silence of the Lambs.

That’s actually the least creepy way I can imagine someone using those things.

Resident Evil’s 5th Anniversary Special Package

Cost: ¥28,000 (app. $230)

Biohazard 5th Anniversary Special Package

Say hello to one of the other trends we’re going to see again and again: elaborate special editions for the Resident Evil series (also known as Biohazard). This Japan-exclusive set came out back in 2001 to commemorate the original game’s fifth birthday, and it’s full of items of varying usefulness.

The Special Package included Resident Evils 1, 2, 3, and Resident Evil: Code: Veronica (which itself included a demo for developer Capcom’s other scary-shit-in-a-house game Devil May Cry), a DVD copy of the backstory-providing compilation “Wesker’s Report,” a pen, a key ring, a regular ring, some dog tags; a commemorative coin, and a locking briefcase to hold it all. So I guess you got plenty for your money.

Capcom only made 10,000 of these, which is probably why if you want one now, you’ll buy it at a high price.

Gran Turismo 5′s Signature Edition

Cost: €179.99 ($241)

Gran Turismo 5 Signature Edition

While we’re talking about cramming a bunch of things into a box: That up there is the Europe-only Signature Edition of developer Polyphony Digital’s fifth Gran Turismo game. While the polished metal box in this set isn’t as espionage-ready as the briefcase in the Special Package, it’s still pretty cool in a “staring into the abyss” sort of way. And what’s in the box? Well, the game, obviously, along with a wallet, a key ring, a 1:43 scale Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, a USB key containing a trailer for GT5, five in-game cars, and two books. One shows off the game’s cars and locations, and the other has 200 pages of tips and essays.

Oh, and do you see that little card up there on the wallet? That granted you entry into a contest to win a full-sized version of that little Mercedes up there. The competition included both in-game and real-life driving events, and Marco Calvo of Spain ended up winning. Mercedes values the car €180,000, so for Mr. Calvo, this bundle is actually the best value of any game ever.

Even if he lived in Australia, where this thing cost $299.99 (about $294 US).

Duke Nukem Forever’s Fully Loaded Package

Cost: $244.99

Duke's Fully Loaded Package

Duke Nukem Forever had several games’ shares of awkwardly named limited versions. You had the Balls of Steel Edition, the King Edition (it came with bubblegum because references to John Carpenter’s 1988 alien-invasion film They Live are still totally cool), and the boring old Steelbook Edition. But the PC-only FLP (I will not type it again, and you can’t make me) was the most expensive Duke experience available.

The FLP included the game, an art book, a mousepad, a wearable belt buckle, and an EVGA GeForce GTX 560 graphics card. I assume the new hardware allows you to play Duke Nukem Forever at maximum graphics settings — because we all know how notoriously taxing Duke Nukem games are.

Tekken 6′s Wireless Arcade Stick Bundle (UK)

Cost: £149.99 ($248)

Tekken 6 Wireless Arcade Stick Bundle

Special editions aren’t always about keychains and snazzy cases. Sometimes, developers try to give their fans something useful. Take this Tekken 6 bundle that came out in the UK for almost $100 more than its U.S. counterpart. It comes with the game, an art book, and a wireless fight stick by peripheral maker Hori.

OK, so you could probably take or leave the book, but hey, that controller is alright, I guess. I’m sure they would have thrown in a keychain if we’d asked nicely.

Tekken Hybrid’s Extreme Edition

Cost: $249.99

Tekken Hybrid Extreme Edition

Here, we have another game with a fight stick, although Tekken Hybrid’s is a more subdued number from Mad Catz. Look at it. It’s so quiet and unassuming. It’s like while the other fight sticks were out getting their crazy decal work done, this one went, “Nah, I’m good. My buttons don’t even need to be different colors.”

As for the rest of the PlayStation 3-exclusive, pre-order-only bundle, it included a soundtrack CD, an art book, and Tekken Hybrid, which itself contains Tekken Tag Tournament, a demo (they call it a “prologue”) for Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and the computer-animated film Tekken: Blood Vengeance 3D. So basically, developer Namco made a game that was a bundle and built a larger bundle around it.

Tekken Hybrid’s Extreme Edition is the turducken of video games.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II’s Care Package Edition (UK)

Cost: £159.99 ($254)

Call of Duty Black Ops II Care Package Edition

The Call of Duty series returns to the list with its most recent offering: a whole lot of swag contained in a giant box modeled after the ones in the game. Black Ops II‘s Care Package Edition, which cost American gamers $179.99, cost our British friends about $75 more. The rest of Europe got off relatively light with a price tag of “only” €179.99 ($229).

This special edition is pretty exemplary, and by that I don’t mean that it’s pretty good, but that it pretty much hits all the salient characteristics of a Big Box Game. It contains a steelbook case, a soundtrack, two commemorative coins, virtual content in the form of multiplayer maps and a little prop for your Xbox Live Avatar, a remote-control drone, and that giant, fancy box. The contents read like a list of things that developers like to sell with their games.

And it was more expensive in the UK, so we can check that off, too.

The Idolmaster 2′s Limited Edition

Cost: ¥19,800 ($261)

The Idolmaster 2 Limited Edition

It’s been a while since I’ve thrown a wall of Japanese at you, so here’s another one.

The Japan-exclusive Idolmaster simulation series (they spell it “Idolm@ster,” but I know how my editors feel about that sort of thing) puts players in the role of a producer tasked with establishing and nurturing the careers of 13 burgeoning pop idols. The PlayStation 3 received a limited edition of The Idolmaster 2, which is actually the third game in the franchise — kind of like how Assassin’s Creed III is the fifth installment in that series.

That big, girly box has the game, a Blu-ray containing Volume One of the obligatory anime spin-off, a soundtrack CD, a standalone (and slightly creepy) “gravura mode” photography minigame, some postcards, and some booklets. I’ll be honest: I don’t really know what else to say about this one. I hope another crazy remote-control-vehicle bundle will come and rescue me.

Oh, hey!

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon’s Helicopter Edition

Cost: €189.99 ($261)

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Helicopter Edition

For the same relative cost of all that pink stuff up there, you could pick up the fairly on-the-nose named Helicopter Edition of the arcade-style flight game Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. This was the first entry in the 20-year-old franchise to let players take control of an attack helicopter, and developer Namco (the same company who brought you all that pink stuff up there) decided to let Europe celebrate this landmark by letting players fly a really small copy of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

If you’re looking at the tinycopter and thinking, “Yawn,” good news: You also get a key chain and a pen. This edition also includes a soundtrack CD, a developer-signed notebook, a steel case, and a downloadable bonus jet. These things were all also available in the blasé Limited Edition, so they’re really trying to wow you with the helicopter.

And, you know, that key chain.

BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger’s Prestige Edition

Cost: €199.99 ($268)

BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Prestige Edition

OK … we have another bundle that comes with a Hori fight stick. What’s interesting about this one, however, is that it was only available in France, and they only made 150 of them. That’s interesting, right?

Alright, what if I tell you that it also comes with a 42-song soundtrack? Soundtracks don’t do anything for you anymore, do they. Hmm … well, how does an art book grab you? No, that’s pretty standard at this point. OK, Mr. or Ms. Unimpressed: They’ll throw in a T-shirt. And a bag. How about a bag? But only for the Xbox 360 version. Nothing? Alright, my bosses are going to kill me for this, but this is my last offer:

How about a sheet of 12 stickers? Yeah, I thought that would do it. Now you know where your money’s going.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning’s Signature Edition

Cost: $275

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Signature Edition

This is where things get a little sad. If you weren’t sure how much now-defunct (and still news-making) developer 38 Studios had poured into its first and only title, Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning, just look at that picture up there, which shows the contents of the game’s $275 Signature Edition. The SE was the most expensive of three special versions of the game; they also offered an $80 Special Edition and a $200 Collector’s Edition.

This version had a very limited run of 300 units, and what did your money get you? This set had so many items that I have to switch to a bulleted list. So here goes:

  • a parchment map of the in-game world
  • a seven-piece dice set
  • a set of 40 “Destiny Cards” based on ones in the game
  • the soundtrack
  • a foot-tall resin troll figure
  • a concept art lithograph signed by Ken Rolston (lead designer on The Elder Scrolls III and IV)
  • a custom sketch by artist Todd McFarlane
  • either McFarlane, writer R.A. Salvatore, or studio head Curt Schilling would sign your foot-tall resin troll figure.

The Signature Edition had enough swag for several games, including the one you made up using those dice and cards.

Here’s a bonus fun fact: 38 Studios accidentally sold 12 more Signature Editions than they’d prepared. Instead of refunding those orders, they upgraded the first 12 customers to reply to an e-mail to the super-extra-rare (because they just made it up) Exclusive Edition, which was like the SE except that it also included one of 12 unique McFarlane screen prints.

Resident Evil 6′s Collector’s Edition

Cost: Nobody knows.

Resident Evil 6 Collector's Edition

As we’ve seen — and will continue to see — Capcom loves to make special editions for the Resident Evil series. This Collector’s Edition for the sixth game in the franchise was exclusive to Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. It includes the game, a steelbook to replace that meme-generating original cover (link NSFW), some emblems representing the three playable campaigns, an art book, a sweatshirt sporting the name of the fictional Ivy University, and either an Xbox 360 Avatar item or a dynamic PS3 theme (depending on which platform you bought it for). All of this came in a big “Needle Bomb” box that solves one storage issue while raising another.

How much did it cost? Well, that’s mostly unclear. Online retailer GAME scored the exclusive rights in the UK and listed it at £129.99 ($210). I couldn’t find any official sources for the retail prices in Australia or New Zealand, but a few angry forum users have cited figures of $249.99 AU ($256) and $319.99 NZ ($264) from seller EBGames.

As of this writing, EB’s New Zealand site lists the four-month-old release at $348 NZ (about $292 US). Another store, Mighty Ape, has it listed for $178.49 AU (app. $184.45 US) marked down from $249.99 AU ($258 US). Its New Zealand arm is offering the game for $229.99 NZ (app. $193 US) reduced from an incredible $349.99 (app. $293 US). Keep in mind that an “original price” on an online store is no confirmation that the item ever sold for that amount, but the current listings — particularly that EB one — are certainly high enough to earn a spot on this list.

Crysis 2′s Maximum Graphics Edition

Cost: $299.99

Crysis 2 Maximum Graphics Edition

Not content merely to give their video cards special Duke Nukem paint jobs, hardware maker EVGA also teamed up with developer Crytek to produce this Maximum Graphics Edition for the PC version of shooter Crysis 2. The $299.99 bundle includes the game, a poster, a shirt, and, yes, an EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics card which, as the name of the bundle implies, should let you play Crysis 2 at the highest graphics settings available.

This set came out three months before the FLP, but it makes way more sense because the Crysis games are famously demanding of players’ computers. “I would say to run Crysis with high settings, you need a machine that has a card that was made in the last six months. Our goal, though, is to make it really playable and look good on machines two-years-old from our ship date,” Crytek head Cevat Yerli said in a 2006 interview with IGN.

The Maximum Graphics Edition is probably the most practical bundle on this list … mostly because buying it doesn’t involve walking up to a cashier with a box featuring a big light-up arrow pointing to a guy’s junk.

Dirt 3′s Ken Block Gymkhana RC Car Bundle

Cost: $299.99

Dirt 3 Ken Block Gymkhana RC Car Bundle

You know, it’s been a while since we controlled something remotely. Thanks for bringing us back, Dirt 3!

I can appreciate a special edition that cuts out the frills. All you got for your $300 was a copy of the racing game and a small RC version of the vehicle on the cover. Granted, that car is one hell of a frill, but at least you don’t have to worry about what to do with an ill-fitting shirt, a pen, or commemorative coins.

Speaking of which:

Resident Evil Revelations Unveiled Edition’s BSAA Watch Set

Cost: ¥39,900 (app. $432)

Biohazard Revelations BSAA Watch Set

It’s been three whole items since we talked about Resident Evil, so I think we’re due for another one.

In May, Capcom is releasing a special edition of its console port of last year’s 3DS game Resident Evil: Revelations that includes the game and a real wristwatch identical to the one heroine Jill Valentine wears in the game. The watch come courtesy of U.S. Agency, a maker of “functional tactical military timepieces,” and this set will only be available in Japan.

Just a game and a watch, Capcom? That seems a bit subdued considering what we’ve seen so far. Oh, wait … did I say they were releasing a special edition? Make that two.

Resident Evil Revelations Unveiled Edition’s Premium Set

Cost: ¥42,000 (app. $455)

Biohazard Revelations Unveiled Edition Premium Set

OK, that’s more like it. Why buy a watch and a game when you can buy a watch, a game, a soundtrack, and a card case with the logo of a fictional bio-terrorism task force? Maybe you could use it to store those cards from the Amalur Signature Edition. To be fair, it’s only about a $20 difference. I guess if you were going to splurge on the watch anyway, you might as well pick up the soundtrack, too.

450 dollars, though … I don’t know. I’m pretty sure that a special edition can’t get any more expensive than that.

Huh? What’s that, Capcom?

Resident Evil 6′s Premium Edition

Cost: ¥105,000 ($1,338)

Resident Evil 6 Premium Edition

I think we all knew it was leading to this.

If you hadn’t heard, the makers of Resident Evil weren’t content to just release one special edition for their sixth game. They also had to put out this Premium Edition, which is easily the most expensive bundle ever released.

Why is it so costly? Do you see Leon Kennedy’s leather jacket up there? It comes with one of those.

“Leon’s replica leather jacket from Resident Evil 6 is made of high quality cowhide leather,” Capcom said (via Eurogamer). “The jacket is an authentic recreation from the game and is fully endorsed by the Capcom Resident Evil 6 Development team. It’s designed to be close-fitting and it has the DSO [Division of Security Operations, the anti-bioweapon organization Leon works for] logo and Leon’s name tag inside. The jacket not only looks good, but also is practical, as it has six pockets outside and two inside.”

Maybe the leather jacket isn’t enough. Well, you also get four tablet cases that look like the ones your characters use to store their health items in the game (no idea what you’d do with those; maybe you could keep mints in them), some maps for the Mercenaries arcade mode, and, yes … some stickers.

Everyone loves stickers.

This edition was only available in Japan and Europe. Did the Europeans pay more? Of course they did; have we learned nothing from all of this? It cost £899 in the UK, which was about 1,456 of our American dollars when the game came out in October.

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