Assassin’s Creed Origins comes with an $800 preorder package. Yes, you read that right: $800.
The Assassin’s Creed Origins is strong, and the franchise has nine main games, seventeen spin-offs games, an upcoming movie, several short films, and several so-called “transmedia projects” that include tie-in novels, board games, and comics.
With over 77 million games sold, it’s a potent cashcow that Ubisoft butchers yearly – and yet, even with the promise of new moolah on the horizon (get it? Moo-lah?), they’re still not satisfied.
The Dawn of the Creed Legendary Collector’s edition of Assassin’s Creed: Origins comes with a 28.7” resin figure of the game’s protagonist, Bayek, four lithographs, an eagle skull set in resin, a map, the game’s soundtrack, and two “Steelbooks”: metal jackets to dress up your game box, rather than leaving it sitting around naked, with only the standard box art to cover its unmentionables.
Oh, yeah – and you also get the game, I guess, at least when it releases… in October. All this for the low, low price of $799.99, because Ubisoft can’t get their rocks off if you aren’t paying them the equivalent of a month’s rent for a game that’s only a “collector’s” item in terms of how much dust it’ll collect on your shelf after you’ve played it for about a week.
Other gaming news outlets have tried to shrug or laugh this off. “Welp, it’s your money,” they say. “Do what you want with it.” If you want to spend $800 on an Assassin’s Creed game, who are they to judge?
Except, this approach ignores the utter contempt with which this marketing decision was made. Assassin’s Creed games make a fraction of what they once made: sales for Unity and Syndicate were less than half what they were in the series’ Assassin’s Creed III and Black Flag hayday.
The people who’ve continued to buy each new installment are, arguably, it’s truest fans – willing to ride the bucking bull of Ubisoft’s arrogant, uncaring, directionless design ethos for the sake of a story, the integrity of which has been deteriorating for the better part of five years. The type of fan who would invest in this Collector’s Edition is someone who loves the series, deeply.
They’re not the type of people who deserve to be swindled by a company they’ve pledged their loyalty to.
Collector’s Editions of Assassin’s Creed Origins
But swindle them, Ubisoft shall, whenever swindling can be done. Because there isn’t just one Collector’s Edition of Assassin’s Creed Origins. At the time of writing – according to IGN – there are no fewer than six.
The step below the $800 “Legendary” edition is the $160 “Dawn” edition, which includes almost everything the Legendary edition does, with only a few exceptions: the lithographs, the second steelbook, and a certificate of authenticity. That means Legendary collectors are paying almost $600 more for a piece of tin, a slip of paper, and a couple of tiles from, presumably, Yves Guillemot’s least favorite executive bathroom.
Assassin’s Creed Origins GODS Collector’s Edition – PlayStation 4 is still grossly overpriced at almost twice the game’s original value, but still comes with the same in-game add-ons, the artbook, the soundtrack, and a 10.2” Bayek figurine. For fans of the franchise who want to treat themselves, the price point is manageable. But here’s the catch: it doesn’t come with the season pass.
That’s right. The God’s Collector’s Edition of Assassin’s Creed Origins costs one hundred and twenty smackeroonies, and the season pass – likely to run at $25-$30 if previous games are an accurate benchmark – isn’t included.
God’s Edition for Assassin’s Creed Origins
That isn’t just true for the God’s edition; it’s also true for the “Deluxe” edition of Assassin’s Creed Origins; the cheapest version of the game available for preorder, barring the base game itself.
Both the $120 God’s edition and the $70 Deluxe do not include the season pass, an additional $30 purchase that is – in most opinions, not just mine – the only conceivable reason for most fans to preorder a so-called “collector’s” edition of a game that will, most likely, collect only mediocre scores on Metacritic before lapsing into obscurity a few weeks after release.
Season passes and preorders are already a cashgrab by publishers, greedy to reap the dividends of game content not yet released to the public. They prey on the anxieties of eager fans who worry that an anticipated game may not be available upon release, or may be missing vital components of gameplay that are only included in more expensive “deluxe” editions.
Season passes and preorders for Assassin’s Creed Origins ask that the most excited and loyal fans of this series pay up for content that they cannot currently access and which may not, in fact, currently (or ever) exist – they are unfulfilled promises that someday, you will be allowed to play the best version of a game, but only if you pay for it right now, and only if you pay quite a bit more than the future asking price.
Loyal Fans – Assassin’s Creed Origins
And loyal fans do this – not, I think, because we’re exceedingly stupid, but because we’re worried about what we might miss out on if we don’t. It’s not uncommon for publishers to gate content behind a paywall – sometimes a paywall with an expiration date.
Some in-game content is only available for players who preorder specific permutations of a game within a specific timeframe, and even from a specific retailer. That same content is never again made available to anyone else, and can even be inaccessible to players who pick up the game secondhand.
It’s a cruel, underhanded system that preys on consumer anxiety about not getting the fullest experience of something they’ve been looking forward to.
This flagrant disrespect Ubisoft has for its most loyal consumers is especially ugly in comparison to the excitement and adulation Origins has inspired in fans.
Lovers of the series will now be forced to traverse a hedge maze of horseshit in order to buy the game they would’ve bought anyway, all because Ubisoft can’t keep its greedy little paws to itself.
At this point for $800, fans better get a sincere apology, written and signed by Yves Guillemot himself. Oh, and a free season pass for every “collector” wouldn’t be out of line, either.