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Buy This Game Again: Special Edition
By Patrick O'Connor     |   Posted on January 18, 2006   |   Episode 90 (Show Archive)  

   

Hey Dante, you're looking a little stiff there, might I interest you in a brand new, space-age bed?
Are you the type of gamer who never has any money? The type that refuses to work for the man? The type that doesn't mind waiting a couple years to own some of the best games of all time? Well, buddy, I think you're in luck! These days all you cheapskates, penny pinchers, and unemployed fools are the ones getting the last laugh and I don't like it one bit.

It used to be that you would either buy a game when it first came out for full price or wait a few months for it to go down in price. This was a good program, it

Movie companies have been trying to get us to buy multiple DVDs for years now!
allowed the game companies a window to reap the most profit to people that simply had to have it early. As the months go on and the game becomes less desirable the price plummets, so all of a sudden the second group of gamers (those people looking for good deals) buys up the game like it's new. This is a system that has seemed to work for all other mediums, including home electronics, music, and DVDs.

But these days video game companies are not only expecting you to buy the game at the full price, but they also want you to buy it a second time at their greatly reduced price. That's right; they want you to buy the game twice! It's bad enough with so many amazing games on the shelves to choose from, but now they want us to buy a game multiple times? How stupid they think we are?


If this version is so special then why does it need that budget-red coloring?
Unfortunately, we're a pretty stupid lot. Even I am guilty of buying into the "special edition" repackage. If you're already a fan of the original content and want all those extras why not spend the $20 and see what's new? And if you never owned the game but always wanted to this deal is even better, you get the best version of the game available at the best price imaginable. What could be so wrong?

It sets a bad precedence, that's what! It gives publishers a false hope that they can rush a mostly-done product to the market and then fix all the problems, add new content, and sell it again a year later. At one time this scenario would have seemed preposterous, but it's becoming more and more common with each passing year ... and 2006 is no exception.

Resident Evil 4 wasn't the only good sequel Capcom gave us in 2005, Devil May Cry returned to form after the much-maligned second installment. Dante was back with a bag full of tricks, a unique fighting system, and a lot of fantastic bosses. It also brought the hard. The very, very hard. The kind of hard that turns off a lot of gamers, especially when it involves the amount of frustration found in a game like this. This

The artwork in Metal Gear Solid is really cool. You know what else is cool? Ending your games with answers and a feeling of finality!
is just one of the "problems" fixed in Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition, a budget PlayStation 2 title that is looking for some brand new fans, as well as a few old ones.

Later this year Konami will go one step further by releasing Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. Originally announced as a 2005 title, Subsistence allows you to relive Metal Gear Solid 3 with a new camera angle, more difficulty settings, and even a few new costumes for you to try on. If that wasn't enough of a reason for you to reinvest in Solid Snake, then you might be interested in the brand new eight-player online battles, something completely new to the Metal Gear universe. And if that wasn't enough, Konami has thrown in the original MSX versions of Metal Gear and Solid Snake (never before released in the United States).

Companies releasing vastly improved budget versions is nothing new, we saw it a couple of times last year. Ninja Gaiden was one of 2004s best games, so Tecmo (who didn't have a whole bunch of other games being released that quarter) decided to re-release it with a bunch of new content (including weapons, costumes, and, surprise surprise, a new difficulty settings). Ninja Gaiden Black was a big hit with fans and critics alike, and rightfully so, it makes what was an amazing game even better.

But we've only looked at the positive side of this trend, games we actually might

Subsistence might be worth buying if only to get the first two MSX Metal Gear games!
want to buy again. Fable: the Lost Chapters should never have been made. More specifically, it was a game that should have never been needed in the first place.

Fable, for those who have completely forgotten, was the much-hyped Xbox exclusive RPG that promised to revolutionize the entire industry. The makers of that game couldn't shut up about how inventive it was, promising the Moon and only making us want it more. And then it hit and it was, um, short. Yeah, that's pretty much the only way to sum it up, Fable was extremely short. Even worse, it lacked a lot of the innovations promised, which led to a lot of disappointment. Where were the huge dragons? What happened to the middle of the story? Why is the game so damn short?

It didn't take long for Lionhead Studios to release a lower-priced Fable with a bunch of new content. This is the content that should have been in the initial release, the content that could have been included had they not rushed the product to retail. That's the worry gamers all over the world have of this trend, companies will rush out incomplete games and then make people buy them all over again when they've

Oh the pain, why did I have to bring up Fable again??
fixed the flaws. New content is nice, but I would hate to see this lead to a projects being rushed or modes and characters held back until a "special edition" is released down the road.

Of course, none of this is very new. Companies have been doing this kind of thing for years little by little. In Japan game publishers are guilty of trying to get people to buy more than one copy of a game. Be it with a collectible box, new content, or some cool limited trinket, the Japanese companies really know how to get the most out of their fans. When I look at the list of games I've talked about in this article it's hard for me not to notice a similarity between most of them, they are from Japanese companies. Tecmo, Capcom, Konami are all Japanese companies, they are the ones trying to get us to buy their games more than once.

But is this really a bad thing? Nobody is forced to purchase the newer edition and it is considerably cheaper than the original asking price. So what is the problem?

In the grand scheme of things a few "special edition" games isn't that big of a deal. There are a lot of other things to worry about, like bad movie games, unimaginative script writing, and World War II first-person shooters. But I wonder how excited I will be when I have two copies of dozens of games. And won't this eventually hurt new game sales? After

If Activision is going to charge $60 for Tony Hawk's American Wasteland they should add something to make it worth our while!
all, when consumers realize they can get the same game with a bunch of added content a year later whose to say they won't just hold off until the bigger (cheaper) set is released?

I hate to say it, but isn't this what the whole online thing is all about? If the game isn't perfect when it ships let the people download the changes, don't make them pay for it again in a "special edition" package. The Xbox 360's marketplace is made specifically for this kind of situation, it's time for companies to go for the fair buck and not try to trick us out of another $20.

But the truth is that companies will do whatever it takes to earn a little extra money. How else can you explain Activision charging $60 for Gun, an Xbox 360 game that doesn't harbor any real differences from the PlayStation 2 version? How else can you justify Microsoft charging $100 for a 20 GB hard drive? Why else would Electronic Arts buy up every form of Football license they could sniff out?

As long as suckers like you and me are enticed by Ninja Gaiden Black, Devil May Cry: Special Edition, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, companies will continue to sell multiple versions of the games. If these companies could find a way for you to buy the same game ten or twenty times you better believe they would do it. But what company is THAT bold? Besides Nintendo with their Pokemon games, Konami with Dance Dance Revolution, Koei and Dynasty Warriors, Mario Party, Tony Hawk games, and ...
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