American Box Art Sucks

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Cause America has no style. Everything here is bland, it's all an advertisement. Non american box art tends to be more artistic, whereas american box art appeals to the lowest common denominator.

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.

its even worse than that. since its foreign companies exporting games to the USA, the blames lies on their prejudices.

American game box covers suck compared to those in other countries because the marketing execs of foreign countries believe Americans to be dumber then people of their own country. As a result they provide a "dumbed down" version for the "stupid Americans". This in no way indicates that Americans are actually stupid.

Hell I don't know why it sucks, I didn't even know that it sucked. But looking at some of these examples I do wonder why the American Version usually sucks more

we have bad artists?

i dunno. i just buy games that appeal to me. boxart is about eye-catching, but i know what i'm getting before i enter the store. hooray internet.

Here is a nice comparison between American and Japanese box art.

I love how Kirby has to be angry in America.

I clicked on the link to see Kirby and I couldn't help but laugh.

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?

well i kinda guess your mom is not the target audience this book was aimed at? also did no one tell your mom not to judge a book by the cover? ^^


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


it's just, genius

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


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.

to me this cover just says: we got a great game, we don't need to get all fancy with our box art.

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?

it's kinda funny because it's like they saw the european version and tought: "that looks pretty good.. we'll keep the origami part in, and then add more shit.

I think an interesting thing to point out is that just because the covers were designed (presumably) to appeal to Americans, it is not always successful. Heavy Rain in particular was lambasted for having terrible art by American video game journalists. In many of the examples given by Yahtzee, one can find pages of people complaining that the American art is rubbish. The problem is that many of these games are quite good in spite of the box art and are thus purchased which I can only assume is the driving reason behind the classic trend of bad American box art. If the game sold well with terrible art, then, by some bizarre marketing logic, the art must have worked!

It's funny (or rather, sad) that it often extends to books and movies as well. well, not so much the art as the titles are getting more and more butchered :/



I am from England and i can't stand american box art.

Other examples of this are Final Fantasy. The EU and JP box art id just a white case with the logo on it, rather than the mess americans have.

And the worst one i have seen is pretty recent and i know Yahtzee will hate it.


Guess what one belongs to who.

That monster on the cover looks like it has a beak for a mouth. :P

Oh lord no, no NO!
How could they do that!

ahahaha oh my god that is funny.. xD the normal one looks pretty badass though. :D

I think a lot of people have a a bit of misconnection about whats going on. The designers don't usually have the final say on what goes out the client or in this case the regional publishers do. As a graphic design student a lot of people in the industry keep telling me that you have to develop tricks to convince the clients that what they want is wrong, after all your the professional. But a lot of times in america business men want the creative control even when they don't necessarily know what there doing. And in the end many of those people are afraid to take risks so they usually chose the one that is safe and delivers the message the best, rather than the one that stands out artistically.

In conclusion, stop blaming American artists, they don't have much say in the matter.

Because we don't get to pick it.

I wish Yahtzee would stop with the Uncanny Valley references already. It's getting old.

Lord Kloo:
Cover Art is usually irrelevant to buying games as if its on the big display board in shops then its big and you heard about it, if not then you only get to see the side of the box so art is pointless..

Eh? What stores do you go to? Every store I've been to shows the cover not the spine. Some stores like EB Games sometimes have one shelf per console that has only spines showing, but the new releases and so forth are the covers not the spines.

I honestly have no idea why it STILL happens... Big companies realised a few years ago that the American market isn't as dumb as they expected all those years... its hilarious to look back on these ridiculous boxarts, its like looking back at the stone age isn't it?

I'll answer your question with another question:
Should it really surprise us that the box art in countries that have existed for so long and have such a rich artistic history and culture (japan and europe) is much much better than that of a relatively young country that is mostly known worldwide (albeit in an axeggerated fashion) as shit blowupers and self declared world police? (i'll let you figure this one out)

It's like having a 9 year old child with ADD trying to compete with a 60 year old graduate in literary history in a poetry competition

Honestly, I just don't know. If only the box art here was better. :'(

Here is a nice comparison between American and Japanese box art.

I love how Kirby has to be angry in America.

The funny thing is, a lot of the comments say how much they prefer the US art...maybe they bring it upon themselves?

Nobody I've talked to actually likes the American version of the box art we get, under any circumstance. Any time they're made aware of other box art, there's an immediate outcry about how much our box art sucks in comparison. I have no idea why we keep getting the worst box art ever, but rest assured we aren't asking for it.

All of the good American box art was used for DOS, C64, and Amiga games! Just look at the AD&D Gold Box covers. Also, I happen to like the American Flashback cover, I have it for DOS and Genesis. Also used to have Another World on Amiga way back.

Personally, I don't like box art where too much Photoshop and graphic art were used. I like to see handmade paintings. Best example: Atari 2600 games. The games were complete shit visually, you HAD to sell it on the box art.

Also, here's another good example relating to Yahtzee's article:
I still like the American box for being stylized except Mega's face makes him look like a Keebler elf. The European box, however, has all of the robots in their Anime-style appearances and perhaps the most foreboding and dark shot of Dr. Wily's face ever. It's almost scary.

Even better... Capcom does it on purpose now as retro humor. But still, it was done by hand and it's a rather nice piece.

From TVTropes' "American Kirby Is Hardcore" trope:

Ico's original cover◊ did a good job of capturing the overall feel of the game - quiet, isolated, beautiful, and above all artistic. The American cover◊ takes all of that away and gives it the look of an uninspired throwaway game, while making Ico himself look gritty, aggressive and as being straight from the Uncanny Valley - something he most definitely is not.

Is it just me or did Yahtzee totally rip off that paragraph?

Yahtzee, what the hell is with you and triple-cunted hookers, seriously?

Unfortunately, I think the people who make box art are stuck in the past (about 30 years ago, to be precise... and they're also failed movie poster designers, not game box-art designers). I often don't keep the box art a game comes with anymore; I printed out the Japanese box-art for MGS4, the PAL box-art for ICO, and a few other games I've done the same thing for (the names escape me right now). On the otherhand, on the rare occasion that we get good box-art, it's usually not because we did it well, so much as because the other box-arts just failed harder. I can only think of a few legitimately good American box-art's, and those are almost all from games made here in the U.S., like God of War and GoW II, thought GoW III's box-art was awful.

And the box art matters in games when we have shitty game design, terrible voice acting, repetitive stories and worst of all broken game play why?

I don't think anyone else has posted this but this man might have something to do with it. Coincidentally he was mentioned in an article on today but if his work making movie posters has been so prolific here then it makes sense that his style would be so integrated into our way of thinking about promotional art. Just look at the samples of his work in the cracked article... the floating heads and collages seem to be, if not his doing, at least popularized by him.

now that he brought it up, that floaty head thing we do is...pretty stupid.

1) American Individualism. This aspect of our culture puts emphasis on individuals over the collective and insists that individuals make the most impact on the world, when really, the relationship between people and their common goals (fantasies, desires) matter.

2) American Marketing Departments.


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?


OT: These days I didn't notice that it happened too much. I guess I've never really cared (or played Mega Man). Although I do agree that some of these look much better in Japan and UK. Whatever, I guess just more proof on what lazy stupid lame boring uncreative fat insensitive undereducated insuperior people us Americans are.

I hate boxarts with 3D renders of the main characters plunked on top. This was especially bad in ICO's era but even now, many of the realistic 3D renders are so uncanny valley that it just creeps me out. MGS4, with a closeup of old Snake's face, is especially bad. For this reason, even though I typically anticipate purchases ahead of time, a good cover for a game I'm on the fence about will usually prompt a buy. And usually, those games will have hand-drawn covers, which tend to have much better design elements because they had to hire an actual artist and not just grab a random intern/committee-influenced "designer" to compile a collage in Photoshop.

And for those who don't care about what's on the box, remember: Your parents and family probably aren't nearly as educated about games, and WILL judge a game by the boxart. They aren't targeting you. They're targeting your naive parents and/or grandparents.

This is an excellent supplement article for this column.

typical american video game boxart is designed after typical american movie posters, and i think the logic behind those are "shove every characters face on the poster and hopefully people will identify with at least one of them".

secondly, our boxart is NOT meant to convey what the game is about... it is all floaty heads as you said, and it is meant solely to get someone to buy it, with no mind to what the hell its actually about. look at the whole add campaign for dragon age, heavy metal action scenes for a damn RPG, and what does it say about our box art that superimposed witches over a field of swords inside a dragon shaped blood splatter is probably one of the most minimalist boxart designs for recent games? also take the famously atrocious ME2 boxart; not a week after it was shown, forum goers posted their own vastly superior photoshopped boxart pleading for bioware to use that instead, but nope, they had to have as generic a boxart as possible, as apparently no one seems to catch on that doing that makes your game just blend in with all the other floaty head boxarts in the video store.

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.

Let us not forget, Sega developed Shadow the Hedgehog because they thought that was what American's wanted.
Consumers don't always have a say, we're just expected to like some things. That being said, some American box art is much better than other countries.
Speaking of featuring a bunch of people on the cover: (Original first, then American)

I think the American there was sometimes better.
Yeah, we get some crappy box art. So do other countries. We also get some box art that is much better. Specifically, Valkyria, or improving Drake's stupid face on the Japanese UC2.

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