When the world's video game marketers shuffle off this mortal coil, they will be judged for their sins. We like to think there will be a separate inquiry devoted just to superfluous special editions, where the worst offenders are cast into the ninth circle of hell.
While some special editions come bundled with useful in-game content, most are festooned with low-quality paraphernalia designed to fleece hardcore fans dry. Without further ado, here are five of the worst offenders.
Awesome (Psygnosis, 1990)
The rubbishly named Awesome was a science fiction action RPG released for Amiga and Atari ST back in 1990. It was kind of the Mass Effect of its era, except without the interesting characters or gameplay.
In addition to the regular version, Psygnosis released a marked-up 'deluxe' edition that came in a truly enormous box - even by the standards of the era. (Seriously, you could comfortably house a small puppy farm in this thing.) The only 'extra' was a T-shirt. Outrageously, the art on the shirt wasn't even designed by Psygnosis' usual fantasy artist Roger Dean.
To add insult to injury, the low-quality transfer flaked away into nothing after the first wash. It was the worst purchasing decision of my life - and I bought the Golden Axe reboot on Xbox 360.
Resident Evil 4 (Capcom, 2005)
Admittedly, the idea behind this one is pretty cool. To celebrate the release of Resident Evil 4 on PS2, Capcom released a special edition with a chainsaw-shaped controller (the same one designed by Nubytech for GameCube). Needless to say, it handled like arse. As Kotaku's Luke Plunkett complained: "the thing is completely impractical, buttons in not just the wrong spot, but uncomfortable spots."
Alongside the H.R Giger Alien Joystick, it's probably the most ill-conceived peripheral ever. Which begs the question - why not just package the game with a cool chainsaw replica without the functionality? It would have been much cheaper to produce and they probably would have sold more.
In the summer of 1992, UK joystick manufacturer Cheetah released the Alien 3 JoyStick for a range of 8-bit and 16-bit microcomputers. It was basically a big plastic xenomorph that you could sort of control games with. As an Alien-obsessed 13 year old, I was determined to save up and buy one for my Commodore Amiga. To this day, it remains the worst financial decision of my life.
Dead Island (Riptide, 2013)
Oh dear. In the simpler, more innocent time of five years ago, someone thought it would be okay to package a game with the gore-spattered, dismembered corpse of a woman clad in a micro bikini. Curiously, the horrific body damage that covers most of the statuette did not extend to its breasts. Following a storm of online anger, Deep Silver was forced to issue an apology for "any offence caused".
Yes, we get that this is a zombie FPS in which dismembering the undead - including women - is a gameplay feature. Nevertheless, sexualised depictions of violence against women should never be the centerpiece of a collector's edition.
Dying Light (Warner Bros. Interactive, 2015)
What is it with zombie games and crappy collector's editions? Dying Light deserves a special place on this list for the hilariously overpriced My Apocalypse Collectors Edition. It came with "free" real-life parkour lessons, a custom zombie shelter, night vision goggles, two pairs of Razer Tiamat headphones and a trip to Poland - for £250,000 (around $AU437,796.)
While clearly a publicity stunt (the edition was limited to one copy), it helped foment the idea of ridiculously pricey special editions in gaming. But the worst thing about the My Apocalypse Collectors Edition? It didn't even come with a season pass. Speaking of...
Red Dead Redemption 2 Collector's Box (Rockstar Games, 2018)
Why buy the game when you can own a bunch of plastic tat and cardboard instead? In a move that has raised more than a few eyebrows, Rockstar has opted to release a collector's edition of Red Dead Redemption 2 that doesn't include the game. For your 160 dollarydoos, you get a treasure map, an old-timey catalogue, a pin set, some playing cards, a bandana, a fake coin, 12 collector cards and a puzzle - plus a box with a lock and key in the unlikely event anyone would want to steal this crap.
The actual game, meanwhile, will cost you the same as everybody else. Tch.
What's the worst collector's edition you've ever parted with your hard-earned cash for? Conversely, what's the best collector's edition you've ever bought? Have at it in the comments!
If you thought spending $US149.99 for a massive collector's edition is too much, what about folks like commenter Gemini-Phoenix, who feel compelled to purchase every limited collector's edition that comes out. Let's hear his desperate please to publishers in today's Speak Up on Kotaku.