American Box Art Sucks

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idk, but for some reason, I can't get over the brilliance of this cover

image

it's just, genius

like Spoony said: "it's like, how much more black could it be?
and the answer is none

nonemoreblack"

Slangeveld:
Most of the box art pictures won't load. D:

Same here.

I don't really give a crap about how cover art looks, but somebody answer me this... WHY DO PEOPLE HATE FLOATING HEADS SO MUCH? Seriously! Every time I see any kind of cover with a disembodied head of any kind, people bitch about it, even if it looks perfectly fine! Why?

Actually, speaking of how covers look, I wanted to get Yahtzee's "Mogworld" book for Christmas (family tradition dictates we never buy ourselves gifts), but my mother refused to get it because she thought the cover art was too hideous to even consider. It's a funny ol' world, isn't it?

Because Marketing in America is not about something that looks artsy, but something that looks sellable... Which means it has to be as generic, dumb and familiar as possible. And nothing is more generic and overdone as the faces collague in a poster (half a face looking at the camera is another, more recent example).

Clearly it's because of Microsoft's position in the gaming industry, and we know what they think of minimalism:

Let's hope Apple puts out a console next generation.

I think you're confusing Americans with marketing executives who are not only unamerican but also tend to not be human.

(present company excepted)

Are the links in the article not working for anyone else, or is it just me?

Anyway, I couldn't help but have Batman: Arkham Asylum's box art nagging in my mind while reading this. If I had my way, I would have gotten a high-profile artist to do the art for game covers. Maybe someone like Drew Struzan, who knows how to draw you in with his work.

The thing about America is that it is fucking huge.

When they brought over the Office, they had to change quite a bit about it before it would be palatable-not to An American Audience, but to an incredibly massive and varied one. Lowest Common Denominator doesn't mean that we're a pack of idiots, it means that we're a nation that's so loosely connected, there's very little that we can all legitimately enjoy.

Design by Committee happens so often here because we usually Enjoy by Committee, too.

That's changing, it should be noted. Inception, Mad Men, Even Kanye West. The vision of a single auteur seen through from beginning to end is coming out more quality, and getting the critical recognition and commercial success we hope for it.

As for why we hate the French, it's partly that we're jealous of their cheap wine and delicious bread, and partly because they take every chance they can to just up and quit working, and that looks too much like laziness to be ignored.

teh_Canape:
idk, but for some reason, I can't get over the brilliance of this cover

image

it's just, genius

like Spoony said: "it's like, how much more black could it be?
and the answer is none

nonemoreblack"

It worked for AC/DC, Metallica, and Spinal Tap, so why not?

But to be fair, by that point the Ultima was such an established brand you probably could have written "Ultima VII" in crayon on a piece of tissue paper and people would have bought it.

LadyRhian:
Because America is all about identifying with the main character- becoming the main character, so that's what we want to see on our box art. Admittedly, not always, but mostly. And we can't identify with a character (or characters) if we don't know what they look like.

There may be some truth to this, but I blame "art" schools in this country for teaching this formulaic shite.

I actually liked the stark red-and-white cover for Dragon Age: Origins, but gawd you should have heard the whining.

JuryNelson:
The thing about America is that it is fucking huge.

When they brought over the Office, they had to change quite a bit about it before it would be palatable-not to An American Audience, but to an incredibly massive and varied one. Lowest Common Denominator doesn't mean that we're a pack of idiots, it means that we're a nation that's so loosely connected, there's very little that we can all legitimately enjoy.

Design by Committee happens so often here because we usually Enjoy by Committee, too.

That's changing, it should be noted. Inception, Mad Men, Even Kanye West. The vision of a single auteur seen through from beginning to end is coming out more quality, and getting the critical recognition and commercial success we hope for it.

As for why we hate the French, it's partly that we're jealous of their cheap wine and delicious bread, and partly because they take every chance they can to just up and quit working, and that looks too much like laziness to be ignored.

Lol, I salute you.

becuase in america being different is almost a crime.
the companies that sell games in america beleive that sex, guns, (for games that adults and teenagers will buy) and cute (kids games) are the only kind of games that will ever be sold to anyone. so they use that to sell games.
but not everyone looks for those things in games.
but hey! it's america! let's drug and/or brainwash those freaks so they become the kind of people we market games to!

i need to get out of here ASAP!!!

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Extra Punctuation: American Box Art Sucks

Why does America hate French videogame developers?

Read Full Article

1. Character-focused art. This was mentioned above.

2. Notice how the art closely resembles movie posters. Notice how movie posters feature the stars--not so much the characters, but the stars. Usually, it's a contract thing. Regardless, it means the poster is primarily faces 90% of the time. As games have grown to more closely resemble movies, is it any wonder they'd have similar ideas regarding graphic design?

3. Take a moment to consider that different cultures worldwide have different aesthetic values. Even different Western nations. Perhaps a section of American people find the original box art just as uninformative, boring, or jumbled as you find this one. Compare Chinese folk music to American folk music to Native-American folk music... they sound nothing alike, and each culture doesn't really care for the others' preferences.

4. Everything goes through localization when it crosses borders. Stuff we export does the same--and we export a hell of a lot more entertainment than we import, all told. The stuff we do import, though, tends to be pretty high profile. This creates an appearance bias--it looks like we do this more often, when it's simply not the case.

Falseprophet:

It worked for AC/DC, Metallica, and Spinal Tap, so why not?

But to be fair, by that point the Ultima was such an established brand you probably could have written "Ultima VII" in crayon on a piece of tissue paper and people would have bought it.

yeah well, you know, I like to compare this with the Godzilla 2000 advertising, you know, the one that was just a poster that said "his *body part* is as *comparison* as *usually a big object*

i blame Star Wars for making heads cool

Phalanx probably takes the cake. Bad from both perspectives in that it says nothing about the game and nothing about the main character.

image

JMeganSnow:

LadyRhian:
Because America is all about identifying with the main character- becoming the main character, so that's what we want to see on our box art. Admittedly, not always, but mostly. And we can't identify with a character (or characters) if we don't know what they look like.

There may be some truth to this, but I blame "art" schools in this country for teaching this formulaic shite.

I actually liked the stark red-and-white cover for Dragon Age: Origins, but gawd you should have heard the whining.

I've said it quite often on the Escapist, any trained monkey can create a detailed, pretty picture. But, to create art takes something much more.

Personally, I place the blame partly on Modern Art and partly on stubborn young artist who feel they need to prove themselves instead of remembering the golden rule, "If it ain't broke don't fix it." I don't know who keeps pushing this, but I agree it's unnecessary.

On a side note, Yahtzee the American bashing is kinda getting old. I'm not offended, (really I'm not the thing with the sea of migrant workers in the Minecraft review made laugh) it's just that is bin done and most people already know the level of dignity America currently has.

Hell, have you seen what we did to Kirby?

japanese cover art is terrible. FAR too minimalistic to the point where it does NOT catch your eye. pal version game art definitely have the best idea. and yeah, fuck US cover art.

What is this......the 80s?

With the internet and reviews so readily available, who pays attention to box art anymore?
All i ever do is give it a passing glance. At most, I'll pay attention to a picture online so I know what to look for in the store.

MacNille:
You should have brought up resident evil 4 boxart.

here is the pal version: image It's very stylise and a litte scary too.

Now here is the american: image

So generic. Nothing about this cover is good. It's so damn bland.

American box art is just more descriptive of the game.
So if you are browsing the store, you see both of these game cases, knowing nothing about the game, you are more likely to get a better idea of what the game is from it.

It's not a creepy dark game where you are in a empty desolate place like the top cover suggests, you are in a village packed with zombies carrying chainsaws, like the bottom.

American box art is VERY VERY self explanatory and that is all that is required. They don't go for looks. Businessman in suits who look like sausages decide that the best way to market their game is to aim for the largest market... the moronic one. They need to target the most people so they make it self explanatory. "This is a zombie game, buy it... you know you want to fight zombies wielding chainsaws :D". If they went with the alternative then they wouldn't fucking sell as people think "whats that... there's black and red... meh, buy COD instead".

The rest of civilized humanity thinks above that .
The people games are sold to like to inquire into different games and good, only semi-explanatory box art will create inquiry and often they will look up the game.

You can't blame anyone for the terrible box art apart from the people bloody buying the stuff as they create the demand.

------------

Oh Yahtzee, I see you have been checking out Lisa Foiles ;)
Whats next week? How Disney have began to abandon Micky Mouse games games :P

Because how am i, in america, supposed to fight this. importing is expensive just for good cover art. and i'm not NOT gonna buy heavy rain just because it has shitty box art.

american localisation departments are dumb as shit... what are you gonna do.

not all box art is terrible here. Assassin's creed is generally pretty neat, as well as mario galaxies. but yeah most third party developers from japan generally give us shitty box art. probably cause they hate us.

Falseprophet:
Clearly it's because of Microsoft's position in the gaming industry, and we know what they think of minimalism:

Let's hope Apple puts out a console next generation.

i pray to god that does not happen. ever. i dont care for microsoft but apple can gtfo of gaming.

OT: hmm way to generalize american public with the people who actually make the box art.

honestly i dont care for it at all, it looks bland as hell, but at the same time, i don't buy a game for the box art, i buy it for the game itself, so i tend to not care really.

I'm trying to remember... but I don't think I bought a game based on cover art, they could put a big pile of poo(probably the smell too) and if it is a good enough game, I would still buy it.

I've played a few of the games mentioned in the article and can concur that my initial interest always came from the cool box art we got in the UK. Looking at the US version EVERYTHING feels like a Saturday morning cartoon. I get the argument about wanting to identify with the main character, but isn't that what the game's for? A fatal mistake made by many games in the day was to have cool front cover art then put in actual gameplay screenshots on the back instantly telling you how little work had been put into the game. :) The American front art has the same sort of feel, like the job was passed to a petulent ad exec who wanted to do something more interesting so they just do the same formula bull-hockey every bleedin' time!

Some of the best games introduce you to lead characters as the story progresses. I really don't need to see the ENTIRE cast on the front of the box. Then again they do the same BS with movie trailers and TV show intros. Look at House for a great, emotive and minimalistic intro and then look at "insert name of cop show here" for exactly how irritating they can be.

In America only artistically bankrupt retards are allowed to do our boxart for video games. It's sad but true.

Otherwise we could just blame the lowest common denominator focus groups that the aforementioned retards rely on for their ideas.

-Snobby American

Falseprophet:
Clearly it's because of Microsoft's position in the gaming industry, and we know what they think of minimalism:

Let's hope Apple puts out a console next generation.

Yes, because nearly nothing on the box is definitely going to do a much better job of telling everyone exactly what they'll be doing in their next $60 gaming purchase.

Yatzhee, I'm no big fan of box art at all, but none of them - not even foreign ones - ever really caught my eye, with one exception. Super Metroid's is about the only one that caught my eye, the American one of that was Samus shooting Ridley with some monsters in the background. At about 5 years old, that looked pretty awesome. But it wasn't the box art I remembered, it was the game. I'm finding this to be a very trivial thing to bitch about. You mean that out of all of the problems with modern gaming, you had to mention box art? What's more, you only mentioned American box art. If you really don't like us that much, fine - keep your ass out of here - but you really don't need to keep calling us out for all the world's fucking problems.

Russian_Assassin:

LadyRhian:
Because America is all about identifying with the main character- becoming the main character, so that's what we want to see on our box art. Admittedly, not always, but mostly. And we can't identify with a character (or characters) if we don't know what they look like.

I'm sorry, fellow escapee, but I could never identify with a main character that looks like this abomination over here:

image

What the fuck is this?

And the punchline? MEGAMAN DOESN'T EVEN LOOK LIKE THAT!

What do you mean? i can identify with that perfectly! Oh the white cloacked men are coming again, bye bye!

Russian_Assassin:

LadyRhian:
Because America is all about identifying with the main character- becoming the main character, so that's what we want to see on our box art. Admittedly, not always, but mostly. And we can't identify with a character (or characters) if we don't know what they look like.

I'm sorry, fellow escapee, but I could never identify with a main character that looks like this abomination over here:


What the fuck is this?

And the punchline? MEGAMAN DOESN'T EVEN LOOK LIKE THAT!

What is this i don't even...

...is that a katamari in the background???

oh wow, ive never seen the other versions of Heavy Rain box art. He's right, the japanese version is so much better then the american version, even the version in europe looks better, what the hell happened?

Some of the links in the article are bad.

I got to be honest. Complaining about a game's box art seems to me on the same level as complaining about a movie poster or complaining about the flavor text on a magic card. Most people who play games reaserch the game they want before they buy it, the only people i know who are persuaded by box art alone are parents who are picking games for their children or just easily swayed children themselves. At that point one would ideally market to those types of people unless it was a mature game like... Idk... Dead Space. Then lo and behold a very nice piece of art work that gets the message across just fine.

The thing of it is, provided the box art doesn't make a person who would otherwise buy it on a normal day not buy the game. The Box art then is only there in order to attract the naive, and if that's what it does and the marketing department seems to think that American's love their Hollywood poster inspired box art then I just have to shrug and say whatever.

Americans tend to lean towards two things: epics and identification with the main character. There's a reason all the movie trailers i remember from when i was kid had the phrase 'one man will'.

The collage format you mentioned works well when a story's atmosphere is about wide space and exploration. So when americans look at it, they get that 'this will be a massive, sprawling story' feeling.

Take the RE4 box art on page 1. The pal boxart is highly indicative of the horror aspect of the game, whereas the american boxart focuses on the protagonist standing alone admidst a sea of monsters.

The problem is, not every game is about those elements (epics and main characters) but box artists try to make it look that way because when done properly it sells better to american audiences. Then they fail miserably over and over. Then fans of specific genres get confused - is this an RPG about a zombie apocalypse, or a survival horror game?

But... when has anyone EVER bought a game based on it's box art? Every time i go to gamestop (i don't buy used if i can help it, but it's close and the only gaming store around here) i know exactly what i'm planning to get.

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