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VILLAGE ARCADE: NieR:Automata's biggest fans drop thousands of dollars on rare collectible statue

Square Enix bets emotional connection will compel enough people to buy this gaming collectible. They might be right.

What is the most you’ve ever spent on a rare item? A few hundred dollars on a rare hockey card? Maybe a few thousand for a first-edition comic book?

For me, it was probably $500, the cost of a special, super limited edition helmet from Mega-Man. I thought it was a lot of money until I recently found out that Square Enix was selling limited quantities of a statue from NieR:Automata for $3,399 USD.

But, as of writing, it looks like the price tag wasn't too steep to deter the game's biggest fans, as it is no longer available for pre-order. Instead, those still on the fence will have to add themselves to a waiting list in hopes of a chance to get the product.

The ¼-scale deluxe statue does everything short of bringing the game’s three main characters to life. Outside of a long list of disclaimers, the Masterline NieR:Automata ¼ Scale Deluxe Version statue comes with swappable clothing, adjustable characters and more.

What shocked me wasn't just the cost of the statue—Square Enix has always sold expensive collectibles—but the quality and detail put into something new from a game several years old—especially considering the product doesn’t actually ship for more than a full year.

Clearly that meant this wasn’t for me, but when it came up in conversation with friends and coworkers, a lot of people had brought up some important questions: who is it for, and would they really spend thousands of dollars to buy it?

Why collect items from video games? 

It’s easy to understand that fans of a game would be willing to pay big money for something that physically celebrates a game. But only the truest, most dedicated fans would pay thousands of dollars for a statue from a game.

In my experience, the type of people buying something like this statue tend to either have a lot of money, or they have an emotional connection to the game.

Gamers, much like comic book or hockey card enthusiasts, have often been known to spend some pretty outrageous amounts of money on rare products that impacted their lives.

I've definitely done this—that Mega-Man helmet I purchased was from a game that helped me as I healed through some medical issues—and I can safely say there’s nothing better than having a physical product on display as a sort of trophy.

The same type of people that buy collectible figures from games are the same type of people that cosplay as their favourite characters at conventions. 

All media with cult-like followings tend to attract die-hard fans. Star Wars has fans that spend hours creating their own Stormtrooper armour and the Lord of the Rings has fans that take part in pilgrimages to Hobitton, where sets from the Lord of the Rings have been turned into a tourist destination.

And video games—especially Japanese games—are no exception to this rule. Japan has turned gaming and anime collectibles into an entire industry, thanks mostly to the country’s government initiative to dominate the pop culture scene.

From screen to reality

Collector’s, or deluxe or special, editions always include an iconic statue or prop from the game. I used to be especially fond of these, and I still have many of these items scattered through my house—from a statue of the Spartans from Halo: Reach to the dragon from Skyrim or even a pillowcase or t-shirt the character uses.

Some of the best collector’s edition games I purchased over the years were from Square Enix. Their hit franchise Final Fantasy was a staple of my childhood, so when I started buying my own games it made perfect sense to buy the highest price version of any Square Enix game I could find.

I even went to Japan a few times as a sort of gaming pilgrimage where I would spend hours going through second hand stores in Akihabara—the electric district—looking for good deals on any rare items I would find. These trips would almost always end up at the Square Enix headquarters, where they had a museum filled with even higher quality collectibles than what you could get from special edition games.

I never saw anything as high priced as the NieR statue, but it still doesn’t surprise me that there’s a market for it. Gaming collectible stores are typically 10 to 14 stories tall and attract a wide range of local and international audiences living for the same purpose.

It’s these people that will pay more than $3,000 USD for a statue to display in their homes, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Square Enix will soon sell out of the NieR statue.