The Fall and Rise of DOOM Eternal's Collector's Edition

Resellers dumped stock before it popped off, making it rare and very valuable

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By RC Staff

Key Points:

  • DOOM Eternal would release to popular and critical acclaim in early 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Collector’s editions opened for pre-order in 2019 for $200, but after failing to resell early on, resellers dumped stock after the game’s release

  • Consumers bought up this dumped stock at retail, and only a handful of resellers held onto their copies, which eventually became worth $500 or more

Hell would be let loose on March 20, 2020, with the release of DOOM Eternal, a sequel to 2016’s surprise hit DOOM. Developed by id Software, the game would become wildly popular, and one of the highest reviewed games of the year. DOOM Eternal’s Collector’s Edition reflects that success, selling for $500 or more two years after the release. Surprisingly, it was actually fairly easy to buy one for retail for several months after release, and many resellers did not believe they were worth their time or money.

Buying and selling Collector's Editions

First, we need to go over the market for reselling collector’s editions, and how it’s changed in the past few years. Collector’s editions are a way for a game’s publisher to milk a little extra money from diehard fans of the product. They will typically be a copy of the game in a special case, usually with a code or two for a unique in-game item or skin. Sometimes, additional paraphernalia like statues, maps, or clothing may be included.

In the case of DOOM Eternal, it was a wearable plastic replica of the Doom Slayer’s iconic helmet, along with an artbook and lithograph. These were also supposed to ship with a cassette tape featuring the game’s soundtrack, composed by video game soundtrack legend Mick Gordon, but for reasons we’ll get into later, this ended up falling through.

DOOM Eternal Collectors Edition Cosplay Helmet

Buying and reselling collector’s editions has become a fairly common practice, as desperate fans tend to be willing to pay a significant premium for their very own special pieces of plastic. Since pre-orders generally open months in advance and in limited numbers, resellers typically have plenty of time to stock up and set pricing. However, recent releases of high profile collector’s editions had proven highly volatile, with many proving hard to sell, and frequently returned.

Fallout 76 was probably the best example of this. Releasing in October of 2018, 76 would go on to be one of the most heavily dogpiled and derided games of the decade. Reviewers and players alike bombarded the game with criticism, and its collector’s edition that retailed for $150 would plummet in price, with many resellers returning their stock.

It didn’t help that aside from 76’s issues as a game, the collector’s edition was also a massive letdown, with publisher Bethesda completely unable or unwilling to provide buyers with the canvas bags promised as part of their pre-order.

Was DOOM doomed?

With the collapse of Fallout 76’s price both at retail and aftermarket, resellers would start looking at collector’s editions with a wary eye. Nobody wanted to stock up on copies only to watch review scores and profits hemorrhage. Even though the first and second pre-order waves would sell out rapidly, aftermarket sales were slow, adding to the uneasiness.

While DOOM Eternal was developed independently by id Softworks, it was published by Bethesda, the same publisher responsible for the Fallout 76 snafu. As release day drew near, news broke that there was an issue with Eternal’s soundtrack, and it would no longer be included in the collector’s edition.

Without getting into the whole dramatic story, developer id and composer Mick Gordon had gone through a now-legendary fallout. Gordon’s inability to meet deadlines and obligations led to the release of the collector’s edition to be repeatedly delayed. Finally, id decided they would push forward without Gordon, effectively reneging on their promises to customers months after receiving payment.

Letter about DOOM Eternal Collector

DOOM’s director Marty Stratton laid the blame on composer Mick Gordon in a reddit post, which quickly racked up tens of thousands of upvotes and comments from fans.

It seemed like history was repeating itself. A Bethesda published title with an overpromised and underdelivered collector’s edition had already bit resellers once, and they would rather jump ship this time.

Either way, once panicking resellers began returning their copies of Eternal’s collectors edition, the resale price tanked. Consumers could just go to their local GameStop and pick up a copy at retail, killing the aftermarket. Most resellers would simply write the game off as a brick, and swore off collector’s editions.

Even following the game’s incredibly positive reception at release, collector’s editions did not take off. This is most likely because the majority of them were sitting in stock at retailers, but also remember that this all went down in March of 2020. In other words, a very confusing and unpredictable time. Spending took a remarkable hit in 2020 as people were uncertain about the future, and for many people, that meant they were unwilling to fork over $400 to a scalper for a game.

In the end, most resellers would return their copies, unless they sold for a modest profit after securing a pre-order. Holding a collector’s edition seemed like a pointless Hail Mary that few had time or interest in.

Rip and Tear, until it is profitable

But DOOM Eternal’s staggering success would prove them all wrong, and frankly, it should have been obvious from the start. While 76 was ripped apart for being near unplayable at launch, DOOM was universally celebrated for its innovation and stability. To draw the conclusion that no one would want a DOOM Eternal collector’s edition because people were dumping their 76 ones would be unfair and shortsighted.

The 2016 reboot of DOOM from id was a massive success, reigniting interest in the developer and achieving praise for nearly every aspect of its design. The soundtrack for DOOM 2016 is often cited as one of the best ever made, and the gameplay and visual design marked a turning point for a genre that had been stagnant for years.

So, when the sequel to one of the most popular games in years released to universal 10/10, 5 star reviews, and sold 3 million copies on it’s release day, why did resellers call it a brick? The game that was developed by the same team, with the same people, and the same composer who wrote the same soundtrack of 2016’s incredible expectation-defying release. It was pretty clear from release day that this game would be popular, yet resellers continued to dump copies.

DOOM Eternal Collector

Why? Because other resellers were doing it. Once the market was tanked, people got short-sighted and wanted out.

It took around 6 months for the price of collector’s editions to rise. By November, the price would reach $400, just in time for the holidays. Now, unopened editions regularly sell for over $500 through eBay.

Remember, there were plenty of copies sitting in stock. Not only did resellers dump their stock, but they passed up plenty of collector’s editions for $200, fumbling potentially thousands of dollars of profit out of panic.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Better luck next time!

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