Regular Version: $50
Collector's Edition: $70
If you need a USB drive, were planning to use the Sims 3 Store anyway, and/or wanted the game guide, the CE is not a bad deal. Hardcore fans care about having the extra logo'd items either way, and that's cool, but if you don't need the extras, ignore the CE. Want is not a good reason for a $20 price jump.
The Sims 3 Store
I think they started the stores to allow fans to pick and choose what they want instead of shoving Stuff Packs in our faces. The only problem is that the Sims 2 Store is three times more expensive than Stuff Packs ever were, even though the Store costs tons less to maintain than Stuff Packs (no packaging, discs, delivery, or middlemen).
Let me do the math for you:
The Store lets you buy points at $5 for 500, $10 for 1000, $20 for 2000.
1 Store Point = $0.01
100 Point Items = $1.00
75 Point Items = $0.75
25 Point SALE Items = $0.25
A Stuff Pack gives you 66-110 items, depending on the pack, and runs $20-$25.
66 Items for $20 = $0.30 Each
66 Items for $25 = $0.38 Each
110 Items for $20 = $0.18 Each
110 Items for $25 = $0.23 Each
The above were calculated where 1 Item includes the mesh and all recolors.
Let's compare that to the fan community:
TSR boasts over 615,000 downloads with 3 subscription packages.
Package 1 (2 Months/$10.95) = $0.000002 per Item
Package 2 (6 Months/$29.10) = $0.000005 per Item
Package 3 (12 Months/$52.75) = $0.000009 per Item
If you take into account they probably included recolors in the download number, the price goes up -- negligibly. This is, of course, calculated assuming you download everything. Downloading less than everything means you're paying more per item.
To find how much each item costs, just divide the Package Price (A) by the number of items you downloaded (B). So A/B=X. For example, if you get the 2 Month package and download 70 items, it would look like this:
$10.95 / 70 = $0.16 per Item
Still cheaper than either the sale items in the official store or the best of the Stuff Packs.
I find official content shops just short of unethical. They're not a "solution" to any problem I've ever heard of, though I'm sure the creators tote it as this amazing place for people to pick and choose what they want. "Oh my God, it's so convenient!"
In reality, it's a way to wring excessive amounts of money out of fans. Not only are the prices much higher than the Stuff Packs, or the cost of production cut way down (and not reflected in the price), but points systems are specifically designed to distance the customer from the idea of spending real money -- and the result is that people spend more than they would if the store had real prices on things.
At least pay sites -- for the most part -- let you grab a monthly subscription to download anything you want.
The official store also has the extra kick-in-the-face of your not being able to share store content in the towns or Sims you make, thus limiting the player's ability to share, an aspect of the game that the creators have really toted in anticipation of TS3's release.
This won't sound new to you cynics out there, but to optimists, I assure you, the official Sims Stores are a ripoff. If they had been created to make your life easier as a fan and consumer, the company would have reflected (in the item prices) how inexpensive it really is for them to list things on the site.
Since they raised the price per item instead of cutting us in on their savings, it's obvious what the company cares about most. (Hint: It's not the fans.)