Films and video games sometimes are released in two versions: the Vanilla Edition, and a better, souped-up Ace Custom edition with exclusive Bonus Material. With movies, you can expect deleted scenes, filmmaker interviews, never-before-seen footage, commentary tracks and so forth. Video games tend to offer a shiny metal case, developer artwork, bonus characters or the Strategy Guide. Concept art, a "making-of" featurette, background story information, character biographies, alternate endings and trinkets are common with both media. All yours, if you pay some extra money.
Worth it? Depends on the individual work, and who you ask. In any case, this is a good marketing strategy, because it feeds into many people's compulsion to own the "best" version. It's particularly clever if you can get people to buy the "ordinary" (some more "ordinary" than others) version, discover how cool it is, and then go shell out again for the Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition.
Occasionally the souped-up edition is the only edition for the first few months of a new release (or may be received as a Pre-Order Bonus). Conversely, the special edition might not be released until a couple of months after the regular edition to squeeze more money out of die-hard fans.
Another practice is releasing films both separately and in a Boxed Set with sequels. As more sequels come out, more editions with the entire series come out. The box sets traditionally come with extra features. This is also done with TV series — four episodes will be on one DVD. Then another four. Then another four. And finally the whole sixteen episodes of the season in a neat little box set. Done to excess, can become (and sometimes is) an example of Crack Is Cheaper.
Just because a product has a "Collector's Edition" or "Limited Edition" printed on it, it doesn't mean it's actually rare, valuable for reselling, or even something actual collectors desire, the comic book industry suffered heavy in the 1990s thanks to a collector bubble, when products like these were mass produced to exploit people who actually believed they would become valuable items in the future, but are still worth nothing to this day.
Note that, with regard to video games, this should not be confused with an Updated Re-release, because that's when a game is rereleased with brand new content and significant alterations to the gameplay. The Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition comes out alongside the regular edition and just adds bonus content separate from the core game.
Remember that Examples Are Not Recent.
- DC Comics with their "Absolute" line of comic releases, which gives the deluxe treatment to well-known classic series like Watchmen, Batman: The Long Halloween, Kingdom Come, The Sandman - which just might be the only comic-book series to be given this treatment for its entire range in four volumes - and many more. These releases are often housed in a hardcover case and include original scripts, alternate cover treatments, introductions and commentary by the creators of the various series and much more. They're also printed at a larger size than normal, giving the artwork more room to be appreciated. Of course, they come at a premium (most sets cost between $150 and $175).
- Dark Horse Comics released Sin City in an "Archival Edition", putting all the various series in their own hardcover book (plus a special making-of book), and subsequently housing them in two dustproof hardcover cases. Ponying up the money for the two "Archival" releases will set you back to the tune of $400.
- First, the Archie Comics stories of Archie marrying Veronica and Betty came over the course of seven issues. Then, the parts were compiled in a trade paperback. Seven months after the paperback compilation, the comics received a hardcover book with interviews with the writers and artists, annotations of pop culture references, and five bonus comics from the 1940s-60s. The price difference isn't that big, but it's still surprising that an Archie comic would get published in book form twice.
- It was extremely common during the 1990s when comic collector sales were at their height for multiple editions of the same comic book. Often they wouldn't be anything more than an alternate cover art, a shiny cover, or just a label saying "collectors edition" on it. However, this mass saturation of the market helped lead to The Great Comics Crash of 1996.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) Issue #1's joint Larry's & Jetpack variant cover, which uses the connected rough design production artwork of the Larry's Comics variant cover and the Jetpack Comics variant cover◊, will have only 125 copies printed. The Jetpack variant itself will be limited to only 750 copies.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW): Due to the original Team Sonic Racing one-shot being released five entire months before the game IDW re-printed it alongside Team Sonic Racing's actual release as the Plus Deluxe Turbo Championship Edition with an extra story added and new cover using renders from the actual game. It also includes some mini-guides and tips/tricks for the game among the original's already quite extensive list of bonus pages.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Edition 3.5 had its 3 core rulebooks released in an expensive, black leather bound edition. The books included an official foreword, a red ribbon booklayer and the sides of the pages were colored golden.
- Starting in late 2012, Wizards of the Coast has been releasing special new premium reprint versions of several 3.5e sourcebook - yet another copy of the core rules, plus books like the Spell Compendium and Magic Item Compendium. This about 5 years after they had discontinued 3.5 in favor of 4th Edition... and with 5th Edition ("D&D Next") already visible on the horizon. Yes, the new versions have updated rules errata, but there's a certain... blatant cash-grabby feel about the whole thing (especially given there was a significant chunk of hold-outs who refused to move forward to 4th Edition, or stepped sideways to Pathfinder), especially with that "premium" setting the price point at no less than $50 a pop.
- Games Workshop can be notorious for this. They've frequently released special edition books, charging 5 times the amount of the regular book. The only difference between the two books is the cover. Just to make matters worse, the special edition books are usually army books, which often end up battered and broken from the wear and tear of regular use on the gaming table. So if you want your expensive special edition book to stay in good condition, you can't even use it for its intended purpose!
- Monopoly Gamer, a Super Mario Bros.-themed variation of the regular Monopoly, comes in both regular and Collector editions. The latter comes with an exclusive Bowser token, replaces the Bowser boss card with a Bowser Jr. one for kinda obvious reasons and haves a different plastic tray in the box, with extra spaces to keep the additional character tokens sold separately.
- The final performances of each Tsukiuta stage play are filmed for bluray. While there are basic editions of the two sides separately, the collector's edition features both sides, multiple camera angles, footage of the Improv bits from each performance in the run, and backstage footage. But what takes it all is the 8-disc, ~30,000¥ (~$300) bluray set of their 2018 Memorial Tour. It features the final performances from each stop on the tour, plus backstage footage, photo booklets, and a special feature where the cast was given a local shopping challenge during their only international stop, in Taiwan. And it's worth it, because the performances changed at each stop - the costumes for some songs changed, and there's even an alternate ending for Hajime and Haru's heartbreak duet, "Koiwasuregusa", where instead of Haru leaving Hajime in the end, he goes back to him, caresses his face, and they wrap the red sash from the dance around both of them as they walk off stage with their arms around each other. It's also especially emotional since, as the title suggests, four of the cast members graduated after this tour.
- To celebrate its 25th anniversary, The Phantom of the Opera, released a box set including a recording of the original London cast, one of the sequel Love Never Dies, and a behind-the-scenes DVD.
- Shadowgirls Season 1 has two hardcover versions available: Regular and Artist Edition. The latter comes with a sketch card and a page of original artwork.
- Sinfest: widescreen edition ("Catch all the crucial details that were cut out — which is why so many episodes made no sense!"). And Sinfest DVD ("parental ADVISORY: explicit shit").
- A parody occurs in webcomics that use a "Gold Foil Embossed Collector's Edition" as a Filler Strip. These editions reissue Comic #1 by reducing the colors to a few shades of yellow. Examples include 8-Bit Theater (link) and Square Root of Minus Garfield (link).
- Oglaf: There are two editions of "Book One". The regular edition, and a signed edition with a hand-drawn bookplate inside the front cover featuring the character of your choice. The signed edition costs $10 extra and actually is so popular that extra character options have been added over time and often end up sold out.
- When Classic Game Room released a best-of DVD, one of the packages was a Special Edition Laser-Hyper-Vision Album Set, which was the size of a LaserDisc sleeve, although they couldn't actually manufacture LaserDiscs anymore so it just contained 3 DVDs and a Blu Ray.
- Oedipus in my Inventory has a parody advertisement for a Collector's Edition that comes with developer's commentary, downloadable soundtrack, concept art, multiplayer, and gold weapons. Of course, it's a crappy adventure game made in under two hours, so whether one would want any of that...
- Parodied in a video by ProZD where a collector's edition for a fictional anime is described. It contains all episodes, a shirt, a print, an art-book (which you won't read), commemorative coins, a bad figurine, a wig, more coins, a digital download code, and 'more shit'. It costs $800,000, comes in an impractical novelty case, and is such a limited run that they're only selling three.
- Very common on Kickstarter projects. For the unfamiliar, it's a site that crowdsources venture capital for various projects - in other words, anyone can donate to a project they'd like to see happen. You can pledge a token amount of money just to have contributed, while certain minimum pledges are effectively a pre-order for the product to be developed (provided the project is for a product, anyway). Higher pledge tiers work out like various levels of limited edition for the project in question, so while you might pledge $20 to get, say, a digital copy of a video game to be made once funded, you could drop $50 for a physical copy of the game with some extra feelies like buttons or decals. Or $100 for the physical copy in a very nice case with buttons, decals, and limited game art. Or... well, you get the picture. High-tier pledges (usually hundreds if not thousands of dollars) are often very limited in quantity, and have infamously included things like "the game designer for a tabletop RPG comes to your home, cooks dinner, and runs the game for you and your friends."
- The George Carlin: The Little David Years box set. All six comedy albums George recorded on the Little David record label are available as individual CDs, but the purchaser of this box set is treated to special-edition packaging (instead of plastic clamshell cases, the CDs come in cardboard slipcovers complete with paper inner sleeves, like vinyl record albums, as well as a seventh disc, Free Complimentary Extra Bonus Disc Not for Sale Anywhere!, which contains 19 tracks of previously unreleased material and a twentieth unlisted track, "The Coney Island Recordings": little routines George recorded at a "Record Your Voice" booth on Coney Island.
- Many automakers will offer special editions of some of their performance or luxury vehicles. Options exclusive to these vehicles can include special badging and paint jobs, performance upgrades, and matching accessory items. The latter can range from specially branded clothing and luggage, to special tools and spares for track use, to access to exclusive racing schools and track day experiences. Additionally, the vehicle may be individually numbered, particularly if the manufacturer announces a specific figure for how many of such vehicles will be made. In an extreme example of this trope, buyers of the Porsche 918 Spyder — a limited production vehicle with only 918 produced — had the option to also receive the 911 Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder, a special edition of the Porsche 911 that, among other features, was numbered to match their 918. Yes, a limited edition car whose perks included a second, equally exclusive car.
- Same applies to computers: Many and majority of the computer manufacturers will often have limited-edition gaming PC sets with highly-customized rigs, packing numerous limited-edition parts from gaming mice, earphones to even gaming-focused CPU and graphics units in a customized case or a gaming laptop with customized colors. Often, they'll offer matching accessories such as themed bags or special tools. Some companies to the point even have subsidiaries like Dell's Alienware and HP's Omen specialize in these.