Extras, extras!

By Mike Musgrove
Sunday, November 29, 2009

Somebody needs to tell the video game industry that there's a recession still going on out there.

Does $60 for a new video game already seem a little steep? As usual, some new titles this year are looking to reach deeper into wallets with "special edition" packages aimed at the hard-core fan, in which buyers get a tchotchke or two in addition to that shiny disc.

This industry typically argues that you get a lot of entertainment bang for your buck with its wares; after all, gamers can squeeze many hours out of their favorite titles. But that economic argument doesn't account for some of the offerings you'll encounter while wandering the aisle of the electronics store this season.

Take, for example, a spiffy set of night-vision goggles with a video game company's moniker emblazoned on its underside. They're fully functional, all right -- and a steal at $180 for those gamers who opt for the "prestige edition" of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

For hoops fans, there's the "anniversary edition" of the basketball title NBA 2K10, priced at $100, which comes packaged inside a sturdy metal locker. Folks who buy this set also get online entry to the game's online "Gold Room," where they have the luxury of playing against other Web-connected players who also bought the pricier bundle.

The dance-club-themed DJ Hero comes with a turntable-like controller designed to make players feel as if they're scratching and mixing tracks from Jay-Z and Eminem. Thanks to the special controller that's required for the game, getting this will set players back a minimum of $120. But the upgraded package, priced at $200 delivers would-be DJs a special carrying case that converts into a stand, perfect for those who don't want to park the thing on a coffee table.

On the other end of the armchair fantasy spectrum, there's The Strike, a fishing video game that invites players to spend time hunting for a prize-winning striped bass. Now, you could sit in front of your Xbox with the usual controller in hand, but where's the fun in that? The pricier set, at $140, comes with a fishing-rod-shaped controller that vibrates in your hand as you snag and land a big one.

As for The Beatles: Rock Band, there are plenty of ways for the fan to spend money. The high-end version of the game bundle runs $250, which gets you a drum set with a pearl finish, like something Ringo might've played, and a bass-guitar controller shaped like Paul's customary instrument. Spend another hundred bucks apiece and you can also get a controller made to look like a Rickenbacker or a Gretsch Duo-Jet like the ones used by John Lennon or George Harrison.

Of course, figuring out new ways to get fan to fork over cash isn't exactly a new development. Last year's Halo 3 came packaged inside a helmet, after all. This year, fans will have to be content with a little less flash. Before digging into the latest Halo book, on sale last week, don't forget to order the radio-controlled "Warthog," built to look like a vehicle used in the games. And the serious fan should never be caught without a pair of Halo 3-themed undies.

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