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"Game of the Year" was an achievement that, at one time, had a real meaning. Starting with PC titles, these special re-releases for those rare games that could be deemed worthy was considered a victory lap for game in question. Specifically, in a time when online patches were not  the quick fix that they are today, Game of the Year releases would usually have much needed fixes, patches and updates that the user base often had to pass along themselves.

Skip ahead to the current atmosphere of gaming retail, and Game of the Year has become a sham. Publishersquickly saw that slapping this moniker on a box was a dandy way of tricking people into paying full price for a game that has already been released. Some may ask what the harm in this practice is, as these re-releases collect all of the downloadable content in one spot, as opposed to buying the DLC bit by bit. This sounds great, but the practice has turned into nothing more than a cash grab by publishers.

So, stop trying to sell me another copy of Borderlands, already!


Don't get me wrong: I am not against these special edition releases due to content. I can think of no greater thing than getting a discount on the massive amounts of DLC that can often be had at a cheaper price than buying all of the content digitally. A perfect example of Game of the Year done right would be Fallout 3, whose DLC bought separately would cost around $75 (not counting the cost of the physical copy of the game).

However, not all re-releases are created equal, and this is where I get angry.

For instance, can someone explain to me why the world needed a Gold Edition of Naughty Bear, a game so bad that the gaming world had to be positively BAFFLED when a special edition was announced? Maybe my lack of insight into the world of video game publishing is sorely lacking, but I'm not quite sure I see any real reason to release a special edition of a game that has a 45 percent rating on Game Rankings.


Besides the publisher wanting to make up for the fact that the title sold poorly the first time around, of course.

"But, Will, that's just one example, albeit a pretty good one. Game of the Year releases are nothing but a positive! We get all of that DLC in a physical disc! Now they can NEVER take away my DLC!"

Allow me to stop you on the first point before I address the second, gentle reader.

Anyone remember Two Worlds? Yes, that Two Worlds. The blatant Oblivion rip-off whose sales can only be to people who thought they were buying Oblivion. These same poor souls were plunged into a fugue state upon entering their game retailer of choice, and promptly ate their receipts and gnawed on the game case as to prevent returning the game.

A game so bad, that 90 percent of the new copies upon the game's initial release were all listed as Collector's Edition, as if the inclusion of a map, a set of Dungeons & Dragons type rules for a tabletop game and a shiny game case would be enough to attract people away from the real video games.

"I give up."

"If there's a God, he is laughing at us, and our Two Worlds: Game of the Year edition release." I'm sorry that I paraphrased Ben Folds just for a joke, but frankly, the joke seems necessary. At the very least, the joke was on anyone that actually gave money in exchange for this game.

Oh. Right. The second point I promised to address.

Some argue that Game of the Year and special edition releases are a way of circumventing the eventual problem of DLC as the next generation of consoles approach. After all, we cannot be promised that the content available today will still be there for digital download, long after we have a PlayStation 4 and XBox 720. Those that are pro-Game of the Year will say that these releases are the publishers way of making sure we never lose the digital download content.

These people are also silly, and apparently do not look very closely at their re-releases.

Resident Evil 5: Gold, Borderlands: Game of the Year, Call of Duty 4: Game of the Year, LittleBigPlanet: Game of the Year, Uncharted 2: Game of the Year, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Ultimate Edition, Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Sith Edition.

What do all of these titles have in common? These games all come boxed with a voucher for DLC and not the physical content on a disc. Why? The extra cost that goes into making a second disc with content for a release.

With no word from Sony or Microsoft on if DLC from this generation will be on the next iterations of the service, going the Game of the Year route is a crap-shoot at best, and at worst a great way for publishers to charge full price for a game they have already released.

My great solution? Buy the title used, or at the Greatest Hits price. Wait until the DLC goes on sale on the various markets (and they will). Profit. Of course, my plan also calls for restraint on part of the consumer, and I guess in the end this debate is only about one thing: immediate availability. Consumers do not want to wait for something tomorrow that they expect to have today.

Which is why game publishers know they have you by the re-releases.