CultureJam – Limited Edition Hardware

Cool Gear, or Cynical Gimmick?

Brian – Cool Gear

I like hardware, and I like fancy paint jobs. Fight me.

Admittedly, I see things like controllers come out with nothing but a different colour scheme and a $40 price hike, and I cringe. This hasn’t happened recently, but a brief glance on TradeMe shows the regret that many people feel after buying the exact same thing they already had for more money and less need. But, while I think that sometimes limited edition hardware is a cynical attempt to sell two year old tech for launch price by slapping on a coat of paint, there are times where it makes sense.

Take the Pokémon Let’s Go Switch, for example. Look at that. Yes, it’s still a Switch, and yes it works out at about the same price as it sold for at launch. But let’s be fair here, very few people are going to dump their year-old Switch for a pretty Pikachu pack. This is a set, intended to get people who haven’t yet bought one of the best consoles out there to, ya know, buy one.

Now I’m not a fancy big-city games company, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea to throw in a little extra incentive to grab a console like this, especially with a game preloaded and with a dedicated peripheral. And I don’t think the $700 price point is unreasonable, when you’ve got a $550 console, a $100 game, and a $90 controller all rolled in together.

Ditto that limited PS4 Pro that sold out in mere hours a few weeks back; aside from the usual scalpers (yes, we see you, and you are jerks), how many people are going to ditch their existing Pro for one with a slightly different colour scheme? I nearly bought one, but I don’t have a Pro, and it made sense for me to get something I’ve been intending to buy anyway with a little added flair.

Sometimes things like this are promotional, like the grease-proof XBoxOne controller for PUBG. Again, that’s just good marketing; it is pure gimmickry, yes, but damned if it doesn’t get people talking about the game, the brand, and the chicken dinners. And it’s not like they’re selling it, so what’s to complain about?

If limited edition hardware is for sale though, and you genuinely want these things, don’t hesitate. I’m still pretty torn up about not getting in for that PS4 Pro…

Ben, however, has a slightly harsher view.


Ben – Cynical Gimmick

Yeah, nah. This is marketing hard at work to find new ways to take your hard earned dollars and make you spend it on something you already own.

Yes these “limited edition” consoles are cool, and yes I’ll admit that on more than one occasion I wish I had had bought one (Darth Vader PS4 I’m talking about you). That being said, these consoles aren’t generally going to make hordes of people switch to a Switch (see what I did there), or buy a PS4 or Xbox if they weren’t already thinking about buying one. Sure a few people may go and switch consoles, or buy a different brand console because of these “limited but not really that limited” consoles (OK the Limited Edition PS4 really is limited edition) but that’s not really the intended market.

Not the intended market, I hear you say. Yep that’s right, make no mistake folks, the real intended market of these gimmicks are people that already own the very same console. The “limited edition” consoles are designed to exploit your love of a franchise. Think about it, every single one of these consoles is tied to a franchise and limited to one platform. To take it a step further they are also often aligned to a franchise that is a platform exclusive like Uncharted, Forza, Halo, or Spider-Man. The idea here is to make someone who already loves the franchise then go ahead and buy the console themed after their favourite franchise.

Herein lies the problem; most of those people already own the console, so they are just throwing their money down the toilet and handing over more of their hard earned cash to Sony, Xbox, or Nintendo when they could do something unheard of, save their money, OK that probably wouldn’t happen anyway but that’s money you could put towards more games! The “limited edition” console plays the same games your no frills console and does everything else that these marketing gimmick consoles do. I mean for about $20-$30 at the most just go and buy console stickers that will give you kickass themed consoles that often looks better than these limited edition monstrosities.

And if that doesn’t convince you, let’s crunch some numbers. Little Billy went over to Mighty Ape and bought himself a PS4 Slim 1TB no frills black console for $520 and it came with 3 games. He loves his PS4 and plays it everyday, but he’s also a big Spider-Man fan, and Noel Leeming still has some of those fancy Spider-Man themed PS4 consoles for $619. If he just bought himself the Spider-Man game it’d cost him $95 so let’s take that off the price of the console bundle and say that it cost him $524. But no, Little Billy must have the Spider-Man console (which is exactly the same as the Slim he already owns except his one doesn’t have Spider-Man themes). Little Billy puts his PS4 Slim on TradeMe where he is competing with people selling their PS4 Pro for around $400-$450, we’ll be generous and say Little Billy gets $360 for his PS4. He then puts that $360 towards his Spider-Man console and tops it up with the extra $259 he needs. Take off the $95 he was going to spend on the game anyway he has lost $164 buying a console that does exactly the same thing as the one he sold. But at least he has a cool Spider-Man theme…

But hold everything Sony has just announced the super duper extra limited, not limited edition Days Gone console and Little Billy MUST have it….

What do you think?

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