On Wednesday, Sony released an unboxing video highlighting all the bonuses included in the Premium Collector’s Edition and November’s “Jotnar Edition.” Ragnarok, god of war, But if you watch that video, you may have noticed that one specific element is missing: a physical copy of the game.
The disc omission is particularly odd because both special editions include the SteelBook display case you’d normally use to store your game discs in style. In this case, however, the PlayStation Blog specifically states that “no game discs are included” with the SteelBook. If you want a copy of the game to be kept, in that case, you’ll have to pay an additional $60 or $70 for the physical standard version of the game. Otherwise, you’re stuck with the digital download code that comes with the pricier special editions (while Sony hasn’t announced pricing yet, similar collector editions from Sony have run $200 and up in the past).
players who pre-order a Ragnarok The Collector’s Edition won’t be able to preload its own digital copy of the game to play immediately on launch day. Instead, they have to wait for physical receipt of their package and the “printed voucher code” included inside, then start what could be a lengthy download depending on their connection speed.
Leaving discs out of pricey packages isn’t exactly a new move for Sony. February release Horizon: Forbidden West A $199 Collector’s Edition and a $229 “Regalla Edition” were featured that were also loaded with physical bonuses but lacking in physical game discs. Forbidden West However, a limited $70 to $80 “special edition” came in, which included a steelbook, mini art book, and a disc-based copy of the game. with RagnarokOnly physical copies will be available in a bare-bones “Standard Edition” (and a “Launch Edition” that includes some free DLC).
Sony is also not completely alone in this trend. May’s Remastered Release Mass Effect: Legendary Edition Launched with a “Legend Cash” bundle of physical collectibles that did not include a copy (physical or digital) of the game. And back in 2020, Ubisoft announced that its $199 Collector’s Edition games for Xbox would include download codes instead of discs (though physical versions were also available at one point).
A shrunken niche?
Considering how many other tangible products are packaged in these bundles, the lack of physical discs in these collector’s editions is more than a little strange. After all, you’d think that the kind of person willing to spend hundreds of dollars for rings, dice, figurines, vinyl soundtracks, and other physical ephemera surrounding a game would even love a physical copy of the game.
But it is not necessarily a given these days. Keep in mind that a good number of console owners are now running an Xbox Series S or PS5 Digital Edition that doesn’t even have a disc drive. Early retail spot checks suggested that nearly a quarter of all PS5 owners may not be able to play disc-based games, for example.
That part of the audience probably includes many players who still want physical tchotchkes to represent their love of their favorite games, even though they no longer care about playing those games on physical discs. And while Sony may split its collector’s editions into physical and digital versions (or simply bundle the two together, a la “digital disc” movie releases), that would be more expensive for an already disrupted supply chain. Could be more complicated.
Also remember that this is all happening in the backdrop of an industry where physical game releases are increasingly becoming a niche segment of the market. Sony’s latest earnings report shows that 66 percent of its game sales in the last fiscal year came in the form of digital downloads rather than discs, up from 43 percent in the 2018 fiscal year. And Sony’s numbers may actually be low for the industry; Capcom says that as many as 80 percent of its sales are digital these days and expects that proportion to grow in the years to come.
In other words, the same trend leading to GameStop stores that have more Funko Pop than games may be leading to collector’s editions that don’t have physical games at all. As strange as it sounds, these days physical copies of games may well be the least “collectible” part of the video game collector’s market.