In the digital world, what will happen to collector’s editions?

It hasn’t happened yet, but we are moving towards a future without physical media. No more CDs and DVDs, or even Blu-rays (and certainly no HD-DVDs).

With the move to digital-only content comes a bunch of questions, like “how do I get my games if they’re on a service that goes out of business?” Or “what if I want to loan my friend a game to play?” And of course, the big one, “What about all the cool collectibles I only get in special editions of the game?”

Today, we’re going to tackle the last question, since the first two are really up to each individual service to answer. At Eggplante, we love collecting awesome and limited edition merchandise. We’ve got a couple of special edition Skyward Sword Wii Remotes kicking around, a Halo: Reach Legendary Edition figure next to our Halo 3 MJOLNIR Helmet, as well as some pretty awesome swag we’ve collected from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo over the years.

But in a world where all games are digital downloads, what will happen to the collector’s edition lifestyle? We actually think it’s going to go away without much fanfare. As sad as it is to say, in about ten years, we don’t see many collector’s edition games being released.

The next generation of consoles isn’t going to be doing away with optical media in its entirety as far as we know, but the generation after that likely will. Nintendo has already given day-and-date downloads to its first party titles on the 3DS and Sony has been all but giving their content away with PlayStation Plus on the Vita as well as the PlayStation 3.

Downloading content is great, don’t get us wrong. We love the fact that we can have that game to play anytime, virtually anywhere, after a (hopefully short) download. We won’t get into the argument about being able to trade-in those games or buy second hand ones, but it’ll be interesting to see how companies adapt to digital-only.

Collector’s editions don’t tend to make game developers a whole ton of money, but if done right, they can step up the profit levels a bit. The Halo 4 Limited Edition didn’t come with a whole lot of extra content, but it did demand an extra $40 over the standard edition of the game. And all for a few downloadable items and some cool pieces of paper. Really, it’s awesome stuff that we wouldn’t do without, but it isn’t $40 we would have spent on game merchandise if it didn’t come with the game itself.

As we look at our gaming shelves (yes, we have quite a few), we’ll be sad to see how they’ll evolve over the next decade. Sure, the lack of future collector’s edition titles will only serve to increase the value of these ones we’ve got, but it isn’t about the money for us. It’s about the fact that we’ve got these special treats from the heyday of video gaming and that we might not be populating our shelves more than we have already.

With that, we still have another ten years or so to collect what other people might see as junk. And there are awesome services like Club Nintendo that offer us wicked rewards for buying games we’re going to buy anyways, and sending us cool stuff just for punching in a code. But we can’t help but think about how we’ll miss the collector’s editions of today when they go the way of the digital-only dinosaur.

Check out some of our favourite collector’s editions of all time in the gallery below!