In the era of digital game distribution, the concept of a “collector’s edition” has begun to blur. However, Blizzard managed to surprise even more: they released Diablo IV Collector’s Box, which has all the typical physical components of a collector’s edition, but the game itself is not included! Let’s try to figure out what’s going on and whether gamers need this? For those who somehow missed one of the most important events in the gaming world in 2023, the review of Diablo IV was published on Boundary earlier: Diablo IV – Hail, Lilith!
Philosophy of collection editions
Collecting computer games is as old as the games themselves, and it exists for the same basic reasons as collecting anything else from stamps to cars… On the one hand, it’s a form of cognition of the world, and on the other hand, it’s a satisfaction of hobby needs. And an interesting feature is that the computer game itself is a primarily digital product that can theoretically be reproduced endlessly and free of charge, often without a separate physical medium (pirates applaud, publishers mourn). In recent years, as mentioned above, the digital distribution model for PCs has generally won out, so many people treat their Steam game list as a “collection”. On consoles, the situation is somewhat different, but there is also a movement towards devices without an optical drive, which will also kill the market for physical copies.
At the same time, interest in collector’s editions of games is fueled by two factors. For gamers, it is an opportunity to get more immersed in their favorite game, to please themselves with a certain exclusive status, and, importantly for some, to “hold in their hands” a manifestation of a digital product in the real world (just as the existence of e-books has not destroyed the desire to put a real book on the shelf). For developers and publishers, the demand for something more than a basic game is an obvious opportunity to make additional profit, so demand creates supply of what is usually called a Collector’s Edition. Due to the dual nature of a game as a computer program and its physical manifestation, the content of collector’s editions is usually divided into two areas: digital bonuses and “merch”, i.e. real items in the box.
Among the digital bonuses, Collector’s Edition is the most frequently added:
- exclusive cosmetic improvements such as weapon skins,
- some variation of the Season Pass with the right to receive future content and
- banal starting bonuses such as additional in-game resources.
By the way, the developers are careful about the latter, so as not to be accused by reviewers and players of promoting the pay-to-win model.
However, it is difficult to sell expensive digital extras alone, and there is a certain collector’s charm to a big box with a game. So usually, the Collector’s Edition includes, in addition to the big box, the following:
- artifacts from the game development period that can be easily turned into separate products: an art book, a soundtrack on a separate medium, posters or lithographs, a map of the game world
- classic merchandise, i.e. products branded with the game’s symbols: caps, T-shirts, badges, key chains, stickers, mouse pads, etc.
- More exclusive things, such as collectible character figures, vehicle models, or replicas of some items from the game (here, perhaps, 1:1 scale helmets are leading the way – various versions of Doom, Fallout, HALO, Mortal Kombat will not let you lie…)
The price of the Collector’s Edition depends on the richness of the publication and the presence of something from the last point, which usually ranges from $50 to $200.
There is also a secondary market for collectible games on eBay and other platforms, with some titles fetching higher prices than they did at retail. And it often happens that boxes are sold cheaper, but without the “digital” component, because the first owner of the game has already registered codes for additional content. Conversely, with the proliferation of platforms like Steam, the phenomenon of the Digital Collector’s Edition has emerged – still a digital copy of the game, to which all the components of the collector’s edition possible in electronic format have been added: an art book in PDF, a soundtrack in MP3, wallpaper in JPEG instead of printed lithographs, and so on.
So Blizzard, developing a distribution scheme for Diablo IV on PC, offered players three editions in digital format: Standard, Digital Deluxe, and Ultimate. With a price of $99.99, the Ultimate version is already worth more than many collector’s editions with physical media, but still does not provide anything to put on the shelf. This is where the official Blizzard Gear store comes in, selling official Diablo, World of Warcraft, and other Blizzard games. In addition to various other products with Diablo IV symbols and themes, they offer to buy a set, interestingly named Diablo IV Limited Collector’s Box, for $96.66.
It includes the typical physical components of a high-quality collector’s edition of the game, but the game itself is not included in any form – neither media nor download code. However, with the availability of Digital Deluxe and Ultimate Edition through Battle.net, this allows those who wish to choose their philosophy: whether the full content in electronic format is enough for them, or whether their collector’s soul requires additional costs. And our job is to figure out whether the content meets expectations?
I would like to say a few words about the purchase process. The Blizzard Gear store does not ship orders to Ukraine, but even if it were possible, it would be much more reasonable to use the services of forwarding companies. They have existed for over 10 years, but Ukrainians still have questions about how to deliver parcels from abroad.
This is in no way an advertisement or a review of delivery services, so we won’t mention their names or websites (this is probably a topic for a separate article). But the principle of operation is always the same:
- Register on the website of the relevant service, get a personalized delivery address to a warehouse in the United States or a European country (in this case, it is more convenient in the United States);
- Order the product in the online store (in this case, the American Blizzard Gear), indicating the address from paragraph 1;
- Receive an order confirmation from the store with a tracking number (“bill of lading” in our language);
- On the forwarder’s website, register a specific parcel, indicating the tracking number, description of the goods and their cost;
- Upon receipt of the goods in the warehouse, they will be identified by the tracking number, weighed and sent to Ukraine;
- Wait for the parcel to arrive in Ukraine, pay for the delivery and receive it in the chosen way (for example, at a Nova Poshta branch).
The entire process from purchase on the website to receipt in Ukraine for goods from the United States with air delivery usually takes 2 weeks, or rather, it varies somewhere in the range of 10 to 20 days. That’s why it makes no sense to overpay for faster delivery in the United States – it won’t speed up the overall process much anyway.
The final price of the goods will consist of:
- the actual cost on the site;
- delivery within the USA;
- state tax;
- exchange rate difference when paying with a hryvnia card;
- delivery to Ukraine;
- customs clearance.
This seems like a long list, but in reality, everything is subject to optimization. There are sales and discount coupons on websites, shipping within the United States is sometimes included in the base price, sales tax is zero in some states, delivery services sometimes hold promotions with discounts on shipping, and customs clearance is not required for goods under 150 euros. And often, without any optimizations, the price tag will be lower than for goods available in Ukraine.
For example, in the absence of direct sales from the Blizzard Gear store, the Diablo IV Limited Collector’s Box in Ukraine is offered only on prom.ua for an insane 14290 UAH, or $380! And from the US, the set arrived for 6096 UAH, of which 1876 UAH was the cost of shipping a 9 kg parcel, taking into account the seasonal 25% discount from the forwarder.
An unboxing video will best convey the feeling of receiving a parcel:
So, Nova Poshta received a huge box weighing 9 kg with the inscription “do not ship before June 1, 2023”. By the way, there were some mistakes in the United States and some players received their Collector’s Boxes earlier. The flight across the ocean was not without incident, as evidenced by the damage on one of the box’s edges. It’s good that Blizzard foresaw this – inside there is another cardboard box that protects the cellophane-wrapped… box of boxes!
By the way, the Ukrainian customs also showed interest in the parcel, which is normal for boxes of this size and the price that was honestly declared. However, they opened only the outer layer for inspection, which was confirmed by the official tape with the inscription “Customs Control”, saw the box within the box and did not go any further.
Finally, having freed the box from the protective cardboard and cellophane, we can see the “front” box, which plays a bigger role in collector’s editions than in ordinary ones. It is made of very high quality material (empty weighs 1.2 kg), has full-color printing with “IV” emblems on the sides, and opens like the gate to Hell from the game itself. On the back, there is a description of the entire contents of the Collector’s Box with a tiny warning “Diablo IV is not included in the set”.
The first to come out of the box are two paintings printed on cardboard (Matted Fine Art Prints in the developers’ terminology): one depicting the demon army, and the other the angel Inarius and the demon Lilith. Together with the cardboard frames with Diablo IV emblems, the paintings measure 475×280 mm and will require additional frames to hang them on the wall. Preferably with protective glass to prevent dust from collecting.
The next element of the set is The Art of Diablo IV Collector’s Edition. At its core, this is a so-called “coffee table book”, i.e. a book that you’re not ashamed to put in a prominent place, but which is intended to be flipped through rather than read. The two-kilogram folio demonstrates exceptional printing quality, each of the 300 pages could be hung on the wall in separate frames… But there is almost no text – 14 chapters, perhaps three times less than in this review. The book is divided into chapters on all 5 character classes, 5 regions of the game, as well as on Lilith, Inarius, choradrims, and monsters. Compared to the general standalone The Art of Diablo 2019 edition, the new book has almost no information value due to the lack of texts, but it is a great way to dive into the visual style of the game, which Blizzard has been working on for years to bring Diablo back to the gloomy medieval gothic on a new aesthetic level. It is known that the Diablo IV art team relied on three pillars. The first one is “Return to Darkness”, i.e. creating a style that is darker in every sense than Diablo III. The second is “Embracing the Legacy”, which promotes respect for their work on the previous Diablo titles. And, the most interesting for us, the third one, “Old Masters”, provides inspiration in the works of classical European artists before the nineteenth century, such as Rembrandt, Caravaggio, da Vinci and others. And this is what makes The Art of Diablo IV feel like an album of works by the artists themselves, not just an art book from the game. Although, with the involvement of such contemporary masters as Brom, the Diablo IV art team are artists.
Deeper in the box is perhaps the most unexpected surprise – on the next box there are a dozen artificial petals that look very similar to the “blood petals” from the game itself! This is the most pleasant moment of unboxing, because it is not described anywhere. And they are on the box that contains the Candle of Creation. It’s a red plastic candle with a candle holder, about the size of a liter bottle. With a weight of 1 kg and a very realistic design, it looks real, but fortunately, it is powered by 2 AA batteries. Fortunately, because it would be a shame to see such an artifact as disposable. The candlestick (also plastic, with imitation bronze) has two sides. One side depicts the demon Lilith, the other the angel Inarius. The power button is disguised as a part of the angel’s armor. The candle lasts for several weeks on a single set of batteries, but you shouldn’t expect it to illuminate anything, because it “glows” rather than “shines.” Interestingly, such a candle is not directly featured in the game and is simply made in the style of Diablo IV.
Further in the depths of the box is the Pin of the Horadrim. It’s a 5-centimeter yellow metal brooch in the form of the emblem of the Horadrim Society from the game. Perhaps some cosplayers will find a direct use for it as part of a costume, but in most cases, the pin will look better on a wall or shelf somewhere on its native cardboard backing with gold embossing around the brooch’s attachment point.
The next is a 400×600 mm Sanctuary world map printed on fabric with an artificial aging effect. It is of little practical use, as the game’s own map is very detailed and has hundreds of interactive markings. In addition, the print quality could be better – some inscriptions are hard to read. It is clear that this was done for the purpose of stylizing the old days, but realism could have suffered here…
And finally, at the very bottom of the box is an “occult” mouse pad (Occult Mouse Pad). It was called occult because of the painted pentagram-like symbol in the style of those used in the game in the rituals of the campaign. Unfortunately, it is practically a souvenir size of 240×195 mm, which already limits its use only to fans of high mouse cursor sensitivity. The fabric itself is not bad, quite slippery, with a typical rubberized backing 3 mm thick. But the absence of firmware along the contour hints that under conditions of maximum load, which is the actual game in Diablo IV, this mat will not live long… Therefore, those who are interested in the collector’s aspect of the set are unlikely to use it for its intended purpose. You can, however, put Candle of Creation on it… In addition, most buyers of the collector’s edition of the game are likely to already have high-quality gaming peripherals, including a mouse pad. And by the way, back in May 2023, SteelSeries presented its QcK Heavy XXL line of mice, headphones, and a Diablo IV-style mouse pad. One mouse pad costs $40, but it will look much more logical on a Diablo IV player’s desk.
None of the elements of the Diablo IV Limited Collector’s Box are sold separately, which in itself makes the set interesting for collectors, because the Blizzard Gear store has additional products for this game. And if you are guided by the average prices for similar products in this store or, for example, Bethesda Shop, you will get a “basket” of goods for about $150-180:
- 2 printed paintings for $2 each;
- a book for $30-40;
- a candle for $30-50;
- badge for $10;
- card for $20;
- a rug for $20.
On the other hand, the Limited Collector’s Box for $96.66 on the website looks even more economically attractive (and there’s a beautiful box!).
Of course, this is not the game itself to rate it. And there is nothing rational in such an expense, even compared to buying an electronic collector’s edition, where the player receives additional content in the game itself for additional money. Such a purchase can be explained by a purely emotional desire to have a physical connection with the game.
From a commercial point of view, Blizzard’s approach to the “collector’s box” is almost unique. Perhaps only the Cyberpunk 2077 Collector’s Box from three years ago comes to mind, but at $39, the content was much less impressive (a cap, socks, keychain, stickers, and minifigures) and the “box” did not replace the actual collector’s edition of the game itself, which cost about $150, but existed as a separate product. And in general, remembering the hysterical start of sales of that game, it looked like something on the verge of fraud. Blizzard’s logic is much clearer: it is very efficient to keep one type of Collector’s Box in stock instead of four separate versions of the full Collector’s Edition for PC, XBOX, PS4, and PS5, multiplied by regional editions. Especially in times of widespread digital distribution, especially for Blizzard with its own Battle.net service. The versatility is also manifested in the fact that the set does not include anything that would be limitedly useful for certain players (for example, clothes may not fit the size or gender), and this is also wise.
If you look through the eyes of a harsh critic, which will definitely appear in the comments, you can get it for 6100 hryvnias in Ukraine:
- 5 kg of cardboard in the form of three beautiful and two ugly boxes;
- two printed pictures that need to be framed;
- a book with almost no texts;
- a plastic candle that is absent from the game, which hardly shines but consumes batteries;
- a badge that has nowhere to hang in real life;
- a poorly printed map that does not help;
- a simple mouse pad.
Still, we’re talking about a game where, in terms of in-game “platinum” translated into Ukrainian hryvnias, a typical set of cosmetic armor costs about 800 UAH. And it does even less than any of the above.
As the practice of the previous three Diablo games has shown, this franchise has been with us for 26 years and, as Diablo IV has become the best game in the series by all accounts, it will be relevant for another decade. In this sense, for a player who sees Diablo IV as a long-term entertainment, purchasing the Limited Collector’s Box, which is available at the launch of the game, will be a great opportunity to maintain their enthusiasm. Especially if Blizzard’s claims in the product description that “limited quantities available” are true and it does disappear from the market, thus emphasizing the word Limited in the title.
If we evaluate the product from the point of view of a collector of collector’s editions, and not a Diablo fan, then it is somewhere “average”. On the plus side, there’s a monumental quality box (and more than one) and a great experience with unboxing, there’s adequate value and universal content in the set, but it’s still a shame that there are no small in-game bonuses… However, this can be solved, and with the total price in the US of $196.95 for the Diablo IV Ultimate Edition and the physical Limited Collector’s Box, this set should meet the expectations of the audience of buyers of such goods. Delivery to Ukraine is expensive due to the heavy weight of the box, but the market for collector’s editions is not very adequate in general. You can take it if your heart desires. And you don’t have to take it if it doesn’t ask.