Video game publisher Bethesda Softworks has announced a special edition of its upcoming game Wolfenstein: The New Order that enhances the shooter with “a vintage footlocker-style box,” “a set of 14 full-color weathered-looking postcards,” and other simulacra of rugged, war-torn objects. About the only thing missing from Wolfenstein: The New Order—Panzerhund Edition is the game itself, which has to be purchased separately. If that’s not a first for a mainstream game studio, it’s certainly unusual. And while on the surface, this move could be seen as a greedy cash grab, Bethesda has a practical explanation:

Keep your pre-order at your favorite retailer and we’ll send you these goodies separately—this way we can ship these boxes worldwide and you're not stuck waiting for your game to come along with an oversized, expensively shipped box.


The “keep your pre-order” bit is a sop to brick-and-mortar retailers who might be annoyed that Bethesda is selling this package direct to players without giving them a cut of the action. Between the lines, Bethesda’s real point is that you can buy the game however you want—as a download, for instance—and still have a chance to load up your shelves with fancy Wolfenstein junk. It’s not a bad idea. As digital downloads become the norm for video games, so too might game-free “special editions” come into vogue. Because while players’ desire for hard-copy game discs might be ebbing, their desire for nerdy tchotchkes is likely to persist unabated. [via Reddit]