Not one, but two special versions of consoles have been in the news lately. One is the Monster Hunter XX edition of the Switch, which is currently a Japan-exclusive and already pretty much sold out. The other are gold and silver PlayStation 4s which come with matching controllers and will be available for everyone this month. Seeing such new designs and variations is exciting, right? But the question is, is it a good idea for companies to release such things on a regular basis?
The PlayStation 4 model is a rather innocuous thing. It is simply a 1TB system in a different color scheme. This was previously quite a prize to get, as it was a literal prize in things like Taco Bell contests. Now, it is everywhere. There’s no drive or grave disappointment if you already have a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 4 Pro. You could always buy console skins to make your existing situation a little more special. Even though it is a shame it took so long for a color that wasn’t white or black to appear and it is limited, people aren’t going to feel left out if they don’t get it.
The Monster Hunter XX Switch is a different situation entirely. The only thing that makes this “limited” edition different is a dock with a design on it. The system itself and its Joy-Cons are the standard grey model. All this hype is for something that you could do at home with some stickers or pens. The only thing that makes it okay is that the console is so new. So many people haven’t had a chance to purchase it yet, making such a flimsy excuse for exclusivity okay.
Such things shouldn’t be pulled off months or years down the road. There needs to be some moderation with limited edition consoles. We’ve seen Nintendo release endless versions of the 3DS in all regions. There are different colors and limited edition designs. It is almost exploitive when you start seeing all these special systems years down the line, especially when there’s so little variation or shine to make them really stand out.
What we should really be seeing, in terms of custom consoles, are ones like we saw when the Xbox 360 was around. Microsoft had some amazing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3, Halo 4, and Star Wars-themed systems. These were so classy. They had custom artwork on the consoles and controllers. Each one also had special sounds that would play when you would turn on the console or open the disc tray. They all included games. In the case of the Halo 4 bundle, the power indicators were even different colors, shining blue instead of green. They went above and beyond to really be something special.
Special systems are fine, in moderation. But, they need to really be special. Shoving in a dock with some different designs or a faceplate aren’t enough. We need editions that are either timeless and a nice bonus that don’t leave early adopters feeling left out or are so absolutely exceptional that we can’t help but admire the care that goes into them.