Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

To Collect or Not To Collect

I’ll admit it, I own all three  Collector’s Editions for World of Warcraft and the one for Lord of the Rings Online; I even have the digital ones for Aion and Star Trek Online. I can’t honestly say that I got my money’s worth out of any of those. STO and Aion I just didn’t play enough, so no surprise there. On the other hand I played WoW a lot, but the Collector’s Editions are still just collecting dust. (Coincidence? I think not!) I’m bringing this up because Blizzard announced the CE for Starcraft II the other day and it looks a lot like those for WoW. Behind the scenes DVD? Check. Soundtrack? Check. The Art of Insert Game Name Here? Check.

Jim Raynor's dog tag is a USB flash drive.

For a whopping $40 more than the normal game, one can expect more than those gimmicks and indeed there are some other additions. The Thor non-combat pet for World of Warcraft might be interesting for those still playing WoW but it is pretty useless for me. I would give it to someone as a gift or maybe hand it out on the blog but, I’m afraid that they’ll simply bind it to your battle.net account. But who knows, maybe we’ll get a code instead.

A really cool addition to the CE is an USB flash drive in the form of Jim Raynor’s dog tag that comes pre-loaded with the original Starcraft and the Broodwar expansion. Now, its use is clearly limited since I don’t really fancy playing the original game again when I finally get my hands on the full Starcraft II, but I did lose my original CD sometime in the last 12 years so at least I would own the game again. The flash drive itself is neat, but not really something I’d want to use a lot. It looks too thick to actually carry as a dog tag (even if I was secure enough in my nerdness to do that) and a 2 GB pen drive isn’t exactly something to write home about these days. Still, I like the idea – at least it’s creative and somewhat useful.

A copy of the first issue of the Starcraft comic book series on the other hand doesn’t seem very appealing to me. I know though that quite a few of my fellow gamers are also into comic books, which I’m not. That makes the book a neat addition for some people I suppose, just not for me. Similar things can probably said about the art book and the soundtrack. I like having the soundtrack, even though game music isn’t something I listen to every day. Blizzard soundtracks are usually well done and I already know a couple of tracks from the beta. The art book won’t collect a lot of dust on my shelf either, but that’s only because it will be inside the CE box, more or less untouched. I don’t get a lot out of flipping through pages full of drawings. Now if they had included large-size prints of some of that art or even some posters I would be much more interested.

The Starcraft II art book. Interesting? Maybe, but not for me.

The last point on the feature list are some exclusive vanity items for the new Battle.net and Starcraft II respectively. Your Collector’s Edition will enable you to use a special model of the Terran Thor unit in Starcraft II games, as well as exclusive portraits to use as your Battle.net avatar. I find re-skins of units to be largely uninteresting, but also unproblematic. What’s interesting about this is that it shows that Blizzard has the technology to add features like these to the game, meaning we will almost assuredly see something akin to the World of Warcraft pet store pop up in the future. As I said on Friday, I can’t blame Blizzard for doing something like this, only the players who buy it. But then, would I be any better than those players if I bought the Collector’s Edition? Essentially I’d pay $40 for a 2 GB flash drive, a soundtrack CD, and a re-skinned in-game unit. Oh and I’d get another cool box for my shelf, which is quite rare these days.

I’m still undecided whether I’ll shell out this much for the game or not (especially with the price being so high in general and another two editions coming up that want to be bought for similar prices as well), but I am a bit disappointed with the lack of creativity from Blizzard’s side. First of all, why is there no authenticator in the box? That would be an actually useful piece of merchandise and it could be made to look like a Starcraft asset as well, just like the flash drive. I have already mentioned prints and posters, but there are many other items that you could actually use instead of keeping them locked away in the box. Where is the mouse pad that used to be in the WoW CEs, or an equivalent to the cloth map? Why no Jim Raynor action figure or a battlecruiser miniature? There are so many fun things that could be put into a Collector’s Edition box, especially at a $100 price tag. It’s time to get creative Blizzard.