When does a "Collector's Edition" bonus cross the line from being a collector's perk to non-collector's punishment? That's what The Elder Scrolls Online has me wondering after pre-orders went live this week, blocking off one of the series' most prominent races for everyone without $79.99 to drop on the upcoming MMORPG.
Just imagine if World of Warcraft 2 came out and did the same thing with Night Elves.
Given the shakey nature of many contemporary big-budget MMORPGs (and the fact that ESO is already in a precarious position due to the M rating it received from the ESRB,) irritating the fanbase with something this brazen doesn't seem smart. It wasn't even remotely necessary, either. Here's why:
More often than not, collector's editions are not intended for the casual fan. They tend to come with exclusive content appreciated only by hardcore admirers, items with significant niche appeal like art books, or access to in-game assets that are uncommon or otherwise special in some way. The collector's edition for Zenimax's new MMO has its share of these bonusses, but it also comes with access to a specific player race, the Imperials. That means that players who purchase the $59.99 standard edition instead of the $79.99 "Imperial Edition" will find themselves unable to play as one of the most significant races in the entire series.
Here's the most frustrating part: There's already a "new" non-player race in The Elder Scrolls Online that would have delighted collectors without irking more money-conscious fans. The Maormer, or sea elves, are in the game as an enemy faction encroaching on the shores of Tamriel. They've been mentioned in previous games, but they've never played as prominent a role as they will be in ESO. The option to play as a Maormer defector feels like it would have been a perfect fit for a collector's edition bonus. It's an exclusive enough opportunity to entice hardcore (and wealthy) fans without making others feel like a central piece of the Elder Scrolls world, a player race they may have favoured in multiple Elder Scrolls games in the past, is being withheld from them.
What do you think? Does the "Imperial Edition" get under your skin, or are you eager to pre-order it for yourself? Let me know in the comments.Tweet
Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times, and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.