Game of the Year Editions: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Being that I love fighting games and comic books, I bought the deluxe edition of NetherRealm’s Injustice: Gods Among Us at a midnight release, complete with free DLC and a statue. I’ve also purchased most of the DLC that has been released. I even downloaded the mobile game in order to unlock some special content. Then a few weeks ago WB Games announced Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition, which will include all of the DLC that have been released and the original game for only $60. This, of course, annoyed me.

Honestly, this was something I hoped wouldn’t happen, which is ironic because I own several “game of the year” (GOTY) edition games, all of which I got at bargain prices. I was grateful for that since I’m not made of money. However, like when I bought Marvel vs. Capcom 3, I wish I had known this would happen, so I could decide if I’d rather spend more money upfront or wait and pay less later.

There are benefits to GOTY editions, both for developers and gamers. There are some annoying downsides to them, too. Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly:

The Good: For developers, this is great marketing. Some players may not have the awareness or ability to purchase DLC. Some may wait to see if the game is worth playing, and seeing that the game has won awards will tell them is worth purchasing. In some ways, it’s like the seemingly “old-fashioned” price drop that would happen with game titles six to twelve months after its release. This has been true of games like Fallout 3, Gears of War 2, and the Batman: Arkham titles.

Some games have issues with their net code or gameplay mechanics, which have to be fixed via updates. GOTY’s come with those patches.

The Bad: Unfortunately, some GOTY editions do not offer bonus content. They’re simply re-packaged versions of the original game with a reduced price. Then there are those oddities like Mortal Kombat (2011 version), which get later editions that aren’t labeled “game of the year.” They’re popular and may have won awards, but these new versions seem to be made strictly for marketing purposes.

One benefit of buying early is getting more practice on the online multiplayer. Players who wait might find themselves getting trounced or disrespected by “veteran” players who have had the game since day one. This steepens their learning curve a bit.

Another downside is it dramatically decreases the resale value of the original version. A game that once would have had a $30 trade-in value at GameStop will drop to a $10 trade-in value.

The Ugly: The catch-22, however, is these editions of games aren’t made unless the original does well. A game usually must win multiple awards from recognized publications or websites and sell well to warrant a GOTY. Hence why such versions aren’t announced until about six to eight weeks prior to release. By then, months have passed and most players have purchased all the DLC, in some cases, doubling the amount of money they have invested in the game.

Gamers must face a dilemma: pay more day one or spend less later. Strapped for cash? The answer is obvious, but for those who can afford games day one, what should they do? This anemic economy has made everyone more money-conscious. Some gamers feel cheated to have purchased a game and its DLC only to see it re-packaged with DLC at a lower price. It not only saved people money, but it also saved them hard drive space.

Conclusion: I’ve been on both sides of the issue. As I mentioned, I bought Injustice day one, but I bought GOTY editions of  Mortal Kombat (the 2011 version) and the Arkham games; I even bought them when they were on sale for twenty dollars! For a penny-pincher like myself, it was great.

Ultimately, players must decide which option is best for them or the one they would prefer. That may be the best thing about the GOTY concept: it opens up more possibilities for gamers.

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