American Box Art Sucks

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I'm from the U.K., so I don't understand why Europe has different box-art to the U.S. Can someone explain?

EDIT: The box-art for Dead space at least doesn't conform to the norm

Same reason why Silent Hill loses all of what made it special when it goes to US developers.

Americans SUCK at symbolism. Or subtlety.

What they did to the ICO cover is just criminal. It's like sticking a fucking fake nose/moustache disguise on the mona lisa or something.

/endtarbrushinganentirecountry

I blame it on us having too many unemployable art students who were trained for Hollywood.

But personally, I've never given two shits about box art. I unpack it and throw the damn box away... and (even back when you had to buy a few magazines to do so) I've never bought bought a game without reading at least two reviews of it.

I'm going to say it's all the marketing schlubs who've never read a graphic novel, much less grown up with them all around. It's just not a culture that appreciates art here.

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.

Europe has twice as many people and a dozen times as many languages, and completely different cultures every few hundred miles too. Don't try selling that varied culture crap. :p

Well, at least video game box art is free from the disease of excessive orange/blue contrast which is plaguing movie posters.

Oh, wait:

image

Shit!

Quite frankly, the entire article is rather moot. Thanks to digital distribution, box art is going the way of the dinosaur, much like instruction manuals (remember those? I do. I actually READ those fuckers before playing, and really admired developers who put some effort into them). The whole article comes across as a bit like an old fart complaining about poor quality saddles around the time the Model T came out.

Who knows really.

I don't have any particularly notable games to mention, but I do have my own personal gripe.

The Secret of NIMH

Fucking. Amazing. Film.

It was a family flick filled with all the adventure and fantasy animated films about talking woodland critters were required to have as rule of thumb, but it still managed be pretty damn dark and atmospheric, very story and character driven, beautifully artistic and it took itself quite seriously. In the end, it was a family movie that defied conventions and was actually about stuff.

The poster for it's theatrical release summed that up pretty well.
image

The VHS box was made a little more approachable, but it still kept the overall style and mood of the actual movie.
image

Then came the time for its DVD release...
image

WAHT THA FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUCK!!?!?!?

This doesn't look like The Secret of NIMH, this looks like "Stupid Wholesome Generic Kids Movie #57-9B"!

I nearly lost it when I saw this in Wal-Mart. Its just fucking offensive.

Danzaivar:

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.

Europe has twice as many people and a dozen times as many languages, and completely different cultures every few hundred miles too. Don't try selling that varied culture crap. :p

How many French companies have to design things with a committee full of Germans, English(wo)men, Spaniards and Italians, though? Our organizations are so decentralized that few of 'em ever even remain in the Americas for long.

Pugiron:
So you blame American consumers for art choices made by a few foreign game companies when they import things here? Thats like blaming Australians for "choosing" to have Paul hogan be their national spokesman for 20 years, or the British for "picking" the ugliest royal family in history.

Although the companys have *some* say in what the covers will be, most companys hire american marketing firms to create the campainge and the covers.

And for some reason the companys think that having the hero on the cover is what the american conusmer wants.

Maybe they tryed artsy and it didn't sell....

Danzaivar:
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.

He only mentioned the american box art because the artical is *about* how american box art all looks the same.

Also he isn't "calling us out for all the worlds **** problems", It is called a joke. I don't think Yahzee *really* thinks that america should be condemed for bad box art. For all the shitty things american does i'm pretty sure that isn't one of them. And i don't know why you think america is the only one being made fun of, in fact i would say he takes the piss out of the uk and japan the most....

I guess you may be a bit touche...

As others have said, they are trying to align the box art with the most recognizable tropes. However, with some of those old box arts...don't discount cheapness. Were there copyright issues with the box art? Because if US publishers had to make their own box art they might just have gone with the lowest bidder. At least for the older games.

warfjm:
Some of the links in the article are bad.

You have to reload the page a few times if they don't work. I got them all.

Danzaivar:
Same reason why Silent Hill loses all of what made it special when it goes to US developers.

Americans SUCK at symbolism. Or subtlety.

What they did to the ICO cover is just criminal. It's like sticking a fucking fake nose/moustache disguise on the mona lisa or something.

/endtarbrushinganentirecountry

Ugh... ok first of. Climax Studios, is a British Developer. So 2 out of the 3 new Silent Hill games were not American Developed. Secondly, while Homecoming (the American developed one) lacked slightly in the subtly department it was still highly symbolic, all of it's monsters still represented something. I could go on all day about this...

But anyway, I agree with the Ico box art, the American one is a travesty but eh... I never played Ico although I'd like too. Hard to find cheap nowadays.

I think I just fell in love with whoever made the japanese heavy rain box art.. Anyone know where to send my wedding proposal and deed to all my belongings?

I jest...

Seriously though, that box art is awesome. <3

SilentHunter7:
It's a trade off. You Aussies get good box art. We Yankees get games before they become irrelevant.

Rofl amen to that. Ok sure I'll readily agree that some of the box art is definitely lacking. However, I don't even remember the last time I really noticed the box art on a game or even really cared.

Other countries continue to regard us with as a stereotype of an unpredictable and crazy group of people. Who at any given moment might become bored with trying to negotiate with insane people and just pull out a .45 and blow them away. And personally... I like it that way... ;D

Also, Yahtzee my friend, I believe you are a bit racist.

I agree whole heartedly with you Yahtzee, as an American gamer I hate the overwhelmingly bland look that most game's box art get in it US release.

I think I realized this first when I bought Batman: Arkham Asylum and I found myself thinking, My God, I own hundreds of Batman comics and trades and 90% have infinitely better cover's. But with this $60 new game I get Batman standing on a cliff looking somewhat confused.

Because Americans like frowning protagonists with moody expressions showing off their physical appeal (or just a female character filling out the latter) and any form of artistic expression in the box-art superior to "Generic Hollywood-esque Poster" is hated and assumed as "pretentious".

Bottom line, you have to make something that appeals to a violence-loving, beer-consuming and escape-reality-and-pretend-to-be-the-main-character-fighting-off-monsters-and-actually-touching-a-woman-desiring community... that unfortunately isn't just found in the states but it's probably more glorified by mainstream media there then anywhere else. Hopefully the minority will fight against it... or just apathetically say "Meh" and shrug.

mjc0961:
Yup. We sure get some weird boxart over here in the States. I also submit for this discussion, Kirby:

Last one is a joke obviously, but really, why did they keep making Kirby angry on our box art?

That's a good one. It reminds of those Dreamworks Animation covers. The whole "Yeah, we're up to no good" face.

American marketing just doesn't like to take any real risks. When Four Weddings and a Funeral was being distrubuted in America, they apparently wanted to change the title because they thought it would be too long and confusing for the American audience. Marketing really needs to stop treating Americans like they're the frikkin' princess on the pea.

That Ico cover was the first thing that sprang to my mind when I saw the title of the article... God, the horror!

Yahtzee, you egomaniacal madman... What have you got against tits?

I mean, yes, good design, and yes, layout and drama and angst and soul-enhancing artwork can really spice up the presentation of a game and make the player feel a lot more happy about it overall, sure.

But also, TITS.

Also, F the French.

As soon as I read Delphine software I thought "Yahtzee is this another flashback plug" amazingly I was right but more amazingly I missed the picture art until I finished the article, i must be the reincarnation of Tasman a joke probably only the australians will get or geography enthusiasts, definately not americans then. you know what Americans are like, they haven't just butchered box art, they've butchered tv shows, games and movies to make more sales, their film trailers are the worst, most of them misrepresent a film entirely giving out the wrong impression, and while this makes the most money it doesn't do the content any favours, they fail to realise if they market their show to the right crowd then that crowd will spread it amongst themselves via word of mouth and they'll make a nice some of money and their game will be praised, instead they market it to everyone and the amount of negative reviews vastly outweighs the good but what does it matter they made a mint, case in point assissins creed 1, tried to please too many instead it pissed them off. A good game that hasn't made a lot but has had praise would be amnesia the dark descent, which developer would you rather be, rich but hated, or not rich but loved.

Danzaivar:

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.

Europe has twice as many people and a dozen times as many languages, and completely different cultures every few hundred miles too. Don't try selling that varied culture crap. :p

We have a state where the culture changes every few STREETS.

And while Europe's culture changes, it's not one country. It's a continent. It's a different ball game

Europe for the win

You realise it's because of Star Wars, right?

Danzaivar:
Europe has twice as many people and a dozen times as many languages, and completely different cultures every few hundred miles too. Don't try selling that varied culture crap. :p

Europe also has everybody pretty much *hating* each other's guts. There's virtually no crossover. Or are you seriously suggesting that Germans all watch the same shows that the British people do?

The thing is, while the US is indeed a wide varied set of cultures, just as Europe is, very few people are trying to sell something to the whole of Europe at once. They localize, and tailor content to each audience. That's not the case here, because apparently we just can't be bothered or something, so everything ends up having to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

It's not that you can't find intellectually stimulating and satisfying material in the US, it's just that from the outside looking in, you'd have to see through the 20 layers of stupid nonsensical BS to get anywhere near it. And this is the case in the reverse too, obviously. There's a lot of crap coming out of the BBC these days, and while the Brits obviously know what is good there, you have to admit that there's a lot of bad as well.

Yes, the reason we buy games is because the box art, that sits on a shelf and only gets looked at when getting the game out, is pretty.

The moral of the story: who gives a crap. Dead Space 2 could have had a literal steaming pile of shit on the front cover and I still would have bought the game immediately.

The Statue of Liberty ain't French! It's Mmmmerican!

While I generally agree with this article, I hope everyone realizes that a) consumers have no say in what the box art for their games look like and b) many of these could be considered a matter of opinion. Obviously no one can argue that the Megaman cover sucked balls, but personally for the last example Yahtzee gave, I preferred the second "Out of This World" box art -the "old pulp sci-fi" American version- to the blandly coloured, hand-painted original... just look at that blocky ape man in the lower left hand corner. Looks awful.

Americans want their covers to look thrilling and gun-fighting-y in order for them to appeal to the mass audience.
The thing is: Because all covers try to pull that off, they all look all the more boring and generic. They all look the same.

That's why simple and question-raising covers (one might call them artsy) are - even though it may seem paradoxical - stand out and thus attract more attention.

It's the same with book covers (at least here in Germany). They all try to look shocking and mysterious, most of them are in black and red. So simple, white covers attract more attention (at least more of mine).

Which reminds me. Russian releases usually use European covers. But sometimes there's shit shittier than American shit (although, not all American covers are bad). Like this one.

image

As an American I can honestly say, minus the fact that the only country I ever find myself hating because they got the game before me is Japan, we screw with games way too much. From changing titles for the American version, to changing images etc. I dont know why we have to try to be so unique.

To everyone arguing that minimalist box art doesn't tell you what the game is like: DVD cases have two sides. The back of Ico has screenshots and writing telling you what the game is about, as does just about any other game, regardless of the art on the front. But anyway, the box art for Ico (and the art design in general) is amazing and the cover is one of my favourite for any form of media.

To add another example that hasn't been brought up yet: The Metal Gear Solid 4 cover. The US versions of previous titles in the series weren't too bad and there's only one real difference between the two, but it's an important one. By not going for the handrawn look, the US version goes against the theme of the series art beforehand and thus fails.

Edit: Wow, Farlander, that's even worse than the Rats of NIMH one. Speaking of which, is Watership Down a cuddly cute film about bunnies or the awesome yet horrifying product of a broken mind?

It's because developers pander to the american sterotype. So it's a self-reinforcing process.

Easily put... Europeans like their art "dramatic" and "inspiring"; where as Americans like their art simple and to the point.

To be fair, it was the 90's in most of those. Basically every kids targeted product in America was fucking insane in that decade.

I completely agree ! I hate americans box art. I was at a video club last weekend and i was looking at the games and i thought to myself: Man, they all look the same ! IT IS NOT APPEALING TO THE EYE ! PAY A FUCKING ARTIST TO THE BOX ART ! If you want video games to be recognized as an art form well, a beautiful hand-painted box art is a point in it's favor not against it.

Yahtzee Croshaw:

Why does America hate French videogame developers?

I think that's just Fox News. Why do the English hate the French?
....
Okay, why do you Still hate the French?

I think the reasons that the US gets such horrible cover-art is because the person who wants to play the game doesn't care what's on the cover. For example: I really liked Mega Man.

The marketing dept designs the cover for the mom in the store buying it for their kid. So they try and design the cover to catch the eye, rape it, then leave it for dead. The idea is for it to be like an overwrought romance novel cover that shows a lot of what they can pass as being in the game. So the mom can say "oh this will be good. Johnny likes aliens, guns, AND tits."
The more they can fit on that image, the more likely some uninformed parent will see it and buy it.
No offense but the escapist kind of does the same thing with the front page of this site.

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!

::Laughs.:: He looks like he's in the midst of a desperate potty emergency.

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