How not to make a collector's edition


When people buy a DVD, Blu-ray Disc, or a video game, they're paying for the content. When people buy a collector's edition DVD, Blu-ray Disc, or video game, they're paying for something more.

Batman: Arkham Asylum just came out, and I was one of the first in line to pick up my collector's edition of the game. With Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin lending their voices as Batman, the Joker, and Harley Quinn, and Paul Dini's pen writing the game, I was looking forward to what is being said to be the greatest Batman video game ever, and an experience worthy of the seminal Batman: The Animated Series. Eidos added a huge, bat-shaped hard case, a making-of DVD, a leather-bound Arkham Asylum doctor's notebook with profiles of Batman's rogues' gallery, and a 14-inch batarang modeled after the game's batarang. At $99, I was looking forward to one of the best video game collector's editions ever.

It comes with a batarang, but it's a piece of black plastic glued to a plastic stand. It comes with a leather notebook, but it's a flimsy glossy booklet wrapped in a little leather flap. The bat-shaped hard case is plastic. The making-of DVD is... well, every collector's edition has one of those. Holy disappointment, Batman! This is a let-down!

When you pay extra for a super-special release of a movie or a game, you should get some metal. Yes, at a $40 premium I was expecting a metal batarang. I didn't need some sort of razor-sharp, realistic projectile, but an actual metal batarang would have sucked me into Batman's world, and it would have been a genuine piece of the game made real.

Look at some of the best collector's editions in the past. Grand Theft Auto IV came with a locking metal safe deposit box and a metal keychain, on top of the extra booklet and CD. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion came with a replica Imperial Septim, a metal coin straight out of the game you really believed you could use to buy a potion. Fallout 3 came with a metal Vault-Tec lunchbox, and a Vault Boy bobblehead. They brought something real out of the game and offered it to the player for the premium price. And each of these games cost less than $99, even in their collector's edition forms.

Arkham Asylum has one of the most expensive collector's editions available (until Modern Warfare 2: Prestige Edition comes out in November, with real working night vision goggles), and it disappoints. For a plastic case, a plastic batarang, and a flimsy "leather-bound" notebook I would accept a $70, maybe an $80 price tag. But for $99 I expect value, and genuine collectability.

The game itself is getting rave reviews, and I'm quite looking forward to stepping into Batman's boots, putting on his cowl, and fighting my way through the titular madhouse. But I could have done that for a little over half as much, and missed very little. I'll keep the batarang on my shelf because it looks sort of nice, but it's not real, it's just a chunk of plastic. Eidos dropped the ball on this one.

Will Greenwald