Buying modern games rarely is a one-time cost. Frequently games have an extended release model, boosting any given title’s lifespan with post-release content, paid or otherwise. Sometimes you can spare yourself the problem if you acquire a version with a Season Pass included, but there is another way out, although it requires patience. That solution is a Game of the Year edition.

Before we move to showcase some of the most comprehensive Game of the Year editions let’s answer some questions surrounding GotYs as an idea.

What is The Game of the Year Edition?

A GotY edition usually contains the base game as well as all the post-launch official content released for it by the developer/publisher. That means possible expansions, additional items, customization options, soundtrack and other additional content.

Game of the Year Editions are usually released well after the premiere of the given title after all development (other than maintenance) has been completed. There is no discernible rule regarding the release time of GoTY edition because it’s different for every game. It’s not unreasonable to expect it within a year from the original release, but it might well take much more than that.

You may ask, so how come there are multiple Games of the Year editions each year and who decides which game deserves this title? There are no rules or regulations deciding which games can use that title and which cannot. Ideally, a game would have received a Game of the year title from gaming media outlets and gaming community in the form of an award, but in practice, ANY game can have a GotY edition. Nevertheless, they are the surest way to acquire a complete game in one fell swoop.

What is the difference between GotY edition and a Complete, Special or Ultimate?

Sometimes a very popular game can have few of such titles. A good example is Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, where Legendary edition is basically GotYE, while its Special edition is just a remastered version of the game with an overhaul of graphics and music and some additional content.

In general though, the difference is usually in the name only, as in most cases you’re getting basically the same kind of product. Another thing is the case of definitive versions which confuse many people. Although Definitive editions usually do include all the DLC and other official content just like GotYs, they frequently also refresh the given games’ graphics and fine tune their gameplay. Usually, Definitive editions are connected to introducing a game to a new generation of consoles and making use of their increased processing power.

Now that we have established what we can expect from GotY and similar editions, we can move on to bringing to your attention several good examples of really worthwhile complete versions.

Batman Arkham City

DeveloperRocksteady Studios
Release date2012-09-07
EditionGame of the year
Game modeSingle-player

Arkham City was, by and large, a pretty damn cool game. Although a lot of Arkham Asylum’s heavy atmosphere was replaced with an urban open world, the festival of Bat-villains, Bat-gadgets, as well as a Bat-dance of Bat-punches and Bat-kicks made AC a blast to play.

Between the Joker and good doctor Hugo Strange there was no lack of primary antagonists driving the story to its dramatic conclusion.

The Game of the Year edition supplements an already hefty base game with playable Robin and Nightwing, as well as more costumes for all the playable characters, a few more challenge maps, and an epilogue mission of sorts. Harley Quinn’s Revenge is a story DLC taking place after the game’s proper ending and roughly sets up the story for its follow-up in Batman: Arkham Knight.

Borderlands 2 GOTY

DeveloperGearbox Software
Release date2012-09-18
EditionGame of the year
GenreAction & Shooter
Game modeSingle-player, Local + Online Multiplayer

Borderlands 2 took what made the first game so popular and ran with it, creating an outstanding looter shooter which lay foundations for the genre.

A wide (and wild) array of randomly generated guns, several characters with well-defined specialties and unique abilities, and a setting which is equal parts crazy and harsh made Borderlands famous. Borderlands 2 added a charismatic primary antagonist to the mix, as a result becoming a straight improvement over the original game.

Oddly enough, the Game of the Year edition doesn’t include all the content released for BL2 (that would be Borderlands: The Handsome Collection). It does, however, include the essentials, like Ultimate Vault Hunters Upgrade Pack or Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, a story DLC themed around a game similar to Dungeons & Dragons. Overall although it is not a complete offering, it still significantly expands on the game and is worth the price.

Dragon Age Inquisition

Release date2014-11-18
EditionGame of the year
Game modeSingle-player, Multiplayer

Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the very few modern role-playing video games which gives the players a sense that they are running an organization during a crisis.

Although most of the game is spent controlling the Inquisitor and their allies on missions requiring precision more than overwhelming numbers, there’s also a satisfying secondary system, which has you confer with advisors, send envoys and troops, and affect the world on a larger scale from your unassailable fortress.

Its GotY edition includes every official piece of DLC released for it, including The Descent story DLC which recontextualizes a crucial part of the setting’s lore, and Trespasser, which delivers a stunning epilogue and a dramatic plot twist.

Fallout: New Vegas

DeveloperObsidian Entertainment
Release date2010-10-19
Game modeSingle-player

The game starts with your character, The Courier, getting shot in the head. Your first act is talking to the doctor who put you back together. Beyond that, you are free to do what you want.

Fallout New Vegas VATS System

Complete your job and get revenge in the meantime, interact with several factions vying for more political power over the Nevada area and thriving New Vegas, or roam the wasteland visiting vaults, fending off bandits and irradiated monstrosities.

If you’re angling to take a shot at FNV, aim for Fallout New Vegas Ultimate Edition. It includes everything the developer has created for FNV, which includes hefty story-heavy expeditions, as well as stuff like Gun Runners’ Arsenal, which established a new merchant with unique and interesting weapons in stock.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

DeveloperMonolith Productions
Release date2014-09-30
EditionGame of the year
Game modeSingle-player

Shadow of Mordor is an engaging amalgamation of Assassin’s Creed parkour and exploration, combat from the Batman: Arkham series, and pieces of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

As Talion you’ll become a nightmare of every orc in Mordor where shadows lie, and thanks to the power of a wraith bonded to him you’ll have your own army of obedient orcs in no time. The incredible and dynamic Nemesis system introduced in Shadow of Mordor is yet to be used by anyone other than Monolith.

The GotY version gives players access to story mission DLCs: one about hunting endemic Mordor beasts, and another taking place in a bygone age when Sauron was yet to be defeated. There are also new runes to boost your power, and skins for Talion. If you’re up to it, you’ll also get to test your skills thanks to the Trials of War challenge pack.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

DeveloperBethesda Game Studios
Release date2002-05-01
EditionGame of the year
Game modeSingle-player,

Morrowind to many people is the finest adventure in Tamriel, Bethesda has ever created, and despite its years, it is still popular among regular players as well as the modding community.

The story takes place on an unusual, ashen island of Vvanderfel full of unique wildlife and harsh landscapes the likes of which video games hadn’t really seen before. You are a newly freed prisoner (something of a series’ tradition) who has an important message to relay. You don’t even know how important it ends up being.

The Game of the Year edition includes both expansions released for Morrowind. The first is Tribunal, which continues the storyline of the base game and is all about the setting’s deities. The other, Bloodmoon, brings werewolves back to the game and takes place on the island of Solstheim, which would later return in a Skyrim expansion Dragonborn.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Legendary Edition

DeveloperBethesda Game Studios
Release date2011-11-11
Game modeSingle-player

Skyrim is a game set in the Tamriel equivalent of Scandinavia, with faux-Norse people, mead halls, snow-covered raw landscapes, and dragons. It’s an open-world sandbox which may be mechanically less complex than TES games before it, but the upside is that it lets you enjoy exploration and combat without worrying about mathematics.

The Legendary Edition of Skyrim makes all three expansions integral parts of the base game. Hearthfire lets your character build sprawling customizable mansions and decorate them with spoils from adventures. Dragonborn takes the player to Solstheim, now an ashen land similar to Vvardenfel, where an ancient Dragonborn comes back to make his claim for power. Dawnguard puts a decision before the player: become a vampiric lord of the night, or join the ranks of devoted vampire hunters.

There is also a Skyrim Special Edition, which enjoys all the benefits of the Legendary one, but also includes numerous graphical enhancements.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Release date2015-11-18
EditionGame of the year
Game modeSingle-player

The Witcher 3 is the final chapter in Geralt of Rivia’s story, letting him reunite with important characters from his past, kill numerous monsters, and play many a hand of Gwent. With two large open-world maps (Velen, Skellige) and two smaller ones (White Orchard, Kaer Morhen valley), the base game offers a lot of ground to cover through exploration and following the dramatic storyline.

The Witcher 3’s GotY version includes over a dozen free updates released post-launch, which include costumes for certain characters, cosmetic options for Geralt himself, as well as minor side-quests and new armor sets.

But it also adds both major expansions. Hearts of Stone is a tribute to an old Polish legend about Pan Twardowski, a man who made a deal with the devil. The other, Blood and Wine take Geralt to a Tuscany-like Toussaint tormented by a troublesome vampire and numerous other problems requiring a witcher’s assistance. Blood and Wine also serve as an epilogue to the entire series, and a final goodbye and ‘thank you’ from the developers to the players. CDPR has since moved on to develop Cyberpunk 2077.

Definitive conclusion

We hope we answered your most pertinent questions about the nature of Game of the Year and similar edition, and that some of our examples caught your interest, or at least gave a good idea of what a proper GotY should be like. There are more examples presented in the sliders embedded in the text, so you may want to check them out too. They are just as good as the ones we chose to describe.

They are just as good as the ones we chose to describe, they just didn’t make an arbitrary cut to make it to the main body of the article. With the notable exception of the still substantial Borderlands 2 GotY all of them are the fastest, easiest, and most affordable way of acquiring all content the title was ever supported with.