Metro Exodus’ Artyom Edition rewards fans in a way exploitative collector’s editions can’t

Collector’s editions have evolved a lot since they first became popular. What started as special edition box art and mementos transformed into exclusive DLC and in-game cosmetics. But there was something nice about the tactile editions that gave the player something they could touch and see in the real world. But these options are becoming increasingly locked away behind bigger price walls that put a more premium price on fandom. Metro Exodus‘ collector’s edition, however, doesn’t submit to the capitalistic greed inherent to other pricey bundles and should be applauded.

Metro Exodus is coming out next month, and the studio behind it, 4A, has just announced the Artyom Edition of the game. It will come complete with a gas mask, filter, bullet lighter, dog tag, and fully functioning Nixie watch, which all iconic objects from the Metro series. Only 10 copies of the Artyom Edition have been made, with 4A keeping the last one. But while it could have sold off the other nine for an absurd amount of money, 4A and the publisher Deep Silver, have decided to give them away in competitions leading up to Metro Exodus’ launch.

It’s incredibly refreshing to see a game publisher create a special edition of its game with no intention to sell it. No amount of money will get you a copy of the Artyom Edition, and even though fans would undoubtedly be willing to pay to guarantee one, 4A, unlike so many other studios, haven’t been tempted by it. While we don’t know if the competitions will be simple lotteries or something a bit more involved, it doesn’t restrict the collectibles to people who can afford them.

Everyone has a chance to win

metro exodus

Everyone has a favorite series of games, books, or films. This love can inspire huge communities to form, creating fanfiction or art, friendships, and even inspiration for other pieces of entertainment. There is nothing wrong with this either, but it can be exploited. It is natural for the most dedicated fans to want to show off how much they love a certain game or try to express how much it meant to them. And one of the best ways to do that is to buy the collector’s edition, which is one way that publishers prey on people’s adoration for a game.

Collector’s editions are not cheap, and a lot of fans both young and old won’t be able to put down three figures on a single game. It can be hard to afford more than one game every couple of months for a lot of people, so tripling that base price is simply out of the question. Right now, pre-ordering the Mortal Kombat 11 Kollector’s Edition will set you back $299.99.

These are not cheap products, but usually these games are extremely popular and have a lot of fans and hype around them. And publishers know those fans will want to buy those expensive editions to show their devotion; it’s why we keep seeing more and more expensive editions of games. And this can cost more than just money, as it can also have an emotional impact on its fans.

Despite my love of Bioshock and its first sequel, I was unemployed when Bioshock Infinite came out, but my housemate had just landed a new job. To celebrate he bought the expensive collector’s edition with a giant Songbird statue, even though he had never played any of the other games before. And although I would never say he couldn’t do what he wanted with the money he had earned, it was not a comfortable moment for me. I was jealous that he had the statue, angry that he had spent so much money on something I couldn’t dream of buying, and I felt like I had let myself down by not buying it.

Despite being unable to grab one, I had fallen for the scheme that these collector’s editions are made for; I felt left out and like I had to overspend to be a true fan. It was as though I was only a valued fan if I could afford it, despite my love of the series. Of course it makes sense that if you pay more, you should get more, but these collector’s editions are often overstuffed to drive up the price to something that most can’t pay. They aren’t just a little more expensive but a lot more expensive.

Like loot boxes, some people may not feel like they are left out, but some do. And, also like loot boxes, these editions are driven by that have and have not economy to pressure those to spend more money. Metro‘s Artyom Edition shows that 4A looks at its fans as more than just marks to squeeze more cash out of and that break from the norm is nice to see.

Emotional investment

Metro Exodus Artyom Edition

With only nine copies of the Artyom Edition up for grabs, there will of course been a lot of people disappointed they didn’t win one themselves. But loving something is more than just how much you are able to spend on it and this evens the playing field. Giving everyone the chance and a lucky few the opportunity to possess parts of the game like the Artyom Edition is a fantastic way for the team at 4A to give back to the fans that have helped make the Metro games so popular. And it’s doing so in a way that doesn’t feel gross.

A business is always going to chase the money but that doesn’t mean that all the studios and publishers behind the biggest games should do that exclusively. Other publishers have the right to sell big collector’s editions and are going to continue to do that. But the Metro Exodus Artyom Edition goes beyond that and seems like a great way to celebrate those fans without involving money. This is a nice change of pace from the numerous other greedy collector’s editions that weaponize fandom and put a hefty price tag on it. And more publishers should learn from this.