Ken Levine on BioShock Infinite's Bro-Tastic Cover Art

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RicoADF:

If it was a new IP it would be a different matter, and heck if it was meant to be a game like one of them then it'd be apropriate (a military shooter/just cause style game).

*looks at boxart*

how the flying fuck did you get "military style" out of THAT?, the reason you and alot of other people see it that way is because of the pop culture filter....thease games dont exist in a vacum, hence why the cover has a generic stylr we've been seeing alot

HOWEVER looking at it on its own (and even with the context of gamign trend) theres NOTHING modern military about...the man is not in uniform, there is a flying blimp in the background and it is not MODERN...its just the pose and nothing more

But it's supose to be bioshock.

no...its suposed to be Bioshock infinate....the cover my be hilariously generic but theres nothing to suggest is isnt bioshock infinate

it still has an impact especially during this time where we have no reviews to go on weather its worth risking the huge investment of pre-ordering to get the one time sets.

...ahvign you been keeping up with the game? lookign at trailers? previewd? compared to them boxart is NOTHING

In this case, the reason I see it as a "lost a sale" until the game comes out and I get more information from players,

well duh! isnt that what everyone does? if your up to date on whats what in gaming and you take this shit as seriously as we all do here we hardly ever judge games on boxart...

Also the fact it's be admitted that this is to increase appeal to the wider audience gives the concern that the game could be dumbed down for a broader audience.

oh for fucks sake...how? Bioshock wasn't exactly Deus Ex to begin with..the BOXART is ment to apeal...we don't know about the game istelf

To summerise - it's not that I find Bioshock's box art special or that this one is awlful, but rather the massive change of style may indicate a similarly change of the game making it less appealing.

how the hell do you know that? ITS BOXART there are better scources to go too if you want info on the game, not to mentiont he boxart is decided on WAAAAAAAY later in the dev cyle..they would have time to change as much

bad box art is nothing new..just look at ME3 and ME2....

Its always for marketing reasons.

They should at least provide alternative cover on the backside like PS3 exclusives do.

Vault101:
*snip*

So your going to condem someone for being cautious on how they spend $150, well if your like to throw your money away go ahead.
I've edited some extra info which you may have missed in the previous post.

To answer the questions, no I haven't been keeping up with the latest news/trailers, I work and when I have free time I play games rather than waste the limited free time I have looking at trailers. I also have a backlog of games to catch up on, so theres no hurry to get the latest Bioshock anyway.

What I was trying to say, but your clearly too busy trying to find an excuse to flame people, is that box art does influence people and to say it has no effect or influence is either lieing, or coming from someone who has already played the series alot and follows it religiously thus the box art means nothing to them.

neonsword13-ops:
WHOA NOW. What's that on the bottom right-hand corner?

"INCLUDES THE ORIGINAL BIOSHOCK!"

So... If I get Infinite, it comes with a free copy of the original? Fuckin' A.

OT: I really wasn't bothered by the Box Art. So what if it's not like the original? If the game's good, it doesn't really matter.

Just the PS3 version.

Its been first announced about last year that they'll be including original Bioshock.

Knoopdog:
I keep hearing some developers and industry figureheads saying that box art often is the only factor some gamers make their purchasing decisions on. I've really got to question that line of thinking. The last (and possibly ONLY) time I ever did that was when I was ten years old and begging my parents for a birthday gift. Who really walks into a store, blind to any additional media of a game, and blows $60 in a heartbeat? I'd have convulsions if I saw someone doing that, even if it was a great game they were picking out. That seems like such a ballsy hypothetical move to pull if it really happens.

I really don't think we need to homogenize cover art to cast a wider net in this industry. Focus groups may get the job done, but it's just like those still frames of assorted 1st-person-shooters that all featured the same orange-tinted crosshairs. The industry can live through it's peaks and valleys, but a case of stagnation like this will only serve to push quality games farther away from the public in general.

I get what you're saying, but the fact is you're clearly not in the segment of the game buying audience that this is targeting. You do follow the industry and you do know about games.

There are a lot of people who do just walk into a game store and buy stuff that they think looks cool or that they've heard about through word of mouth. Nearly every time I walk into an Electronics Boutique (aka GameStop here in Canada) I overhear people looking at games and, at the least, picking up boxes of stuff just because it catches their eye. I don't have any numbers, of course, but it's far from uncommon. Does it translate into sales? Maybe, maybe not. It does, however, at least get the uninformed to take a second look. And I live in a very heavily college/university town so we're not talking about a consumer base that necessarily has a lot of disposable income.

That said, I do agree that this sort of art representing the game does probably also work to push people who may be interested in the games actual content further from the game as well. I suppose they've just ran the numbers and found that it's likely to gain them more sales than it costs them.

Levine has a solid point, and he is one of the few people in the industry whose solid points are really worth anything.

But yeah, if they were looking to hit every cliche in the book, they did so well they had to write the sequel themselves just to carry on.

Anybody who has been following the development of this game will know that the box art does not make the game, and therefore will be capable of ignoring the cheapness of this marketing tactic.

bafrali:
Why stop there 2K? You could always put Elizabeth in a bikini besides him. Why not add a cigar in his mouth while we are at it? You might wanna add some blood there too. It looks lifeless this way.And why use weak flares when you can set the fucking cover on fire?

You know what this guy needs? A minigun.

You forgot, you have to put both Elizabeth AND songbird in bikinis to either side of him.

Gotta have two bikini clad folk for proper box art

sammysoso:
It's a sad world when people are making purchasing decisions based on box art.

Oh well, at least Levine is being blunt and honest here. Can't really fault them.

No, it's a world full of idiots. Which is exactly what this world has always been.

I think the box art is fine. Better to focus on the unique character, which is the focus of the game. Rather than some random enemy/environment. If it was a faceless soldier, THEN I would have a problem with it.

FelixG:

bafrali:
Why stop there 2K? You could always put Elizabeth in a bikini besides him. Why not add a cigar in his mouth while we are at it? You might wanna add some blood there too. It looks lifeless this way.And why use weak flares when you can set the fucking cover on fire?

You know what this guy needs? A minigun.

You forgot, you have to put both Elizabeth AND songbird in bikinis to either side of him.

Gotta have two bikini clad folk for proper box art

Absolutely ingenious. If a giant bikini wearing metal bird doesn't catch eyes, I don't know what will. Are you from the future by any chance?

Grey Carter:

He did mention that 2K will be providing alternate covers that gamers can print off themselves.

Oh well as far as I'm concerned, all is forgiven. The only thing better would be a more artistic reversible cover printed on the other side, but hey- they have the alternative, and that's good enough.

Who cares...

I don't mind it, though I'm betting a lot of 'bro gamers' will be PISSED after they pop in the game and realize it's not one of 'their' games

:P

RicoADF:

Vault101:
*snip*

So your going to condem someone for being cautious on how they spend $150, well if your like to throw your money away go ahead.

no, I'm only condeming people for rejecting games for some arbitrairy reason like boxart

To answer the questions, no I haven't been keeping up with the latest news/trailers, I work and when I have free time I play games rather than waste the limited free time I have looking at trailers. I also have a backlog of games to catch up on, so theres no hurry to get the latest Bioshock anyway.
What I was trying to say, but your clearly too busy trying to find an excuse to flame people, is that box art does influence people and to say it has no effect or influence is either lieing, or coming from someone who has already played the series alot and follows it religiously thus the box art means nothing to them.

yeah it influences some people, seemingly people buying on a whim who don;t know what Bioshock is

all you have to do is read a reveiw when the game comes out...thats it, boxart doesnt have to be a factor

Tanis:
I don't mind it, though I'm betting a lot of 'bro gamers' will be PISSED after they pop in the game and realize it's not one of 'their' games

:P

aside from the pose itself I don;t see how a "bro gamer" could look at this and think "modern military shooter" part of the reason people are over reacting

Was wondering, "No Elizabeth?" then recalled that dev who went on the big QQ fit about everyone gawking at her awesome cleavage. Ah well.

Never really been too concerned about box art tbh. If I was to impulse-buy a game that I hadn't heard of off the shelf it'd be by reviewing the back of the game for any information and screenshots rather than the front artwork.

IamLEAM1983:
Print two covers on a single sheet. Don't like Bro-oker DeWitt looking all forlorn and badass? Flip it over. There ya go: Elisabeth and Songbird or Columbia's majestic vistas or whatever else feels arbitrarily more evocative or artistically relevant.

Done. Also, /thread

/thread indeed, I was going to say exactly this. Two covers=problem solved

Haven't bought a box in a LONG time. Sure I order them online but only after seeing the game on a site, being lured in by the marketing, etc. etc.

I don't really like the cover, especially because it was designed to lure in frat boys, which I find kind of insulting. It's a really American way of box cover design that also annoys me. The same thing happened to ICO, we had abstract art work painted by the director himself in Europe and Japan, Characters Face in America.

For the sales it really mattered! The cover in America with a boy holding a sword sold MUCH MUCH WORSE!!!

So the idea that a frat boy will be lured over by a character on the box cover, then flip it over to see more of the game really doesn't hold that much water when you actually look at an example. It also insults the intelligence of the customers "The only way we could get their attention was with bland generic coverart, what do you want us to do? Make an eye catching cover that will draw in people in general?" It worked for Bioshock didn't it? A new IP with no name value?

Bioshock Infinite has name value attached to it and with increasingly digital sales boxcover art will slowly start to matter less and less. So really, all this is is just a bland box cover that people (including myself) are getting WAY to heated over.

I will buy it digitally so I don't have to look at the cover on my shelf, problem solved.

Sylveria:
As much as I want to condemn this decision... I can't. There's been more than a few times that the cover of a game has caught my eye because it was relevent to my interests and caused me to look at it. Conversely, as someone who couldn't be less interested in dude-bro shooters, this cover wouldn't warrant a second glance, let alone a closer inspection. But, this industry is ruled by the whims of the dude-bros, sadly. I miss the days when gaming was just for the nerds and artistic integrity wasn't so readily sacrificed to bring in "the main-stream."

While I'm not a fan of the box-art, what's wrong with wanting more people to play your game? He wants more people to play Bioshock, people who might have otherwise turned it down. Granted, I'm not sure how big an influence box-art has on sales numbers, but isn't it better to risk the integrity of the box-art than the integrity of the game itself?

I'm somehow reminded of Ubisoft changing the box art of one of the Settlers games from the European original to something "better suited for the American market":

image

Grey Carter:

LtFerret:
Um, quick question. Where are people getting this silly notion that any previous Bioshock's box art was good? They were pretty generic as well. "big daddy is about to punch you" and "Delta glares at you." This is par for the course.

You can argue that their layouts great, but I don't think you can argue that the covers aren't distinctive. How many games can you name with a giant in a diving suit carrying a little girl on the cover? How many you name on which a white man holds a gun and stares off into the middle distance while something explodes/catches fire?

I have to look now...
A Google image search for "Video game box art" pulled up all these. Although they don't necessarily have something exploding in the background, I feel they're still similar...

All characters with the exception of Cole are holding guns. All characters are male and at least 7 are white. The remaining are too covered in dramatic lighting to tell; Master Chief is wearing a helmet. Socom 4 has three white guys holding guns.

Edit: In my search I also stumbled upon this. Apparently somebody broke down the cliches even more. This site gives an example of how many do have explosions in the background, as well as a few others.

It's almost like a team of very talented artists decided to lump together as many clichés as possible to attract the dew-guzzling, frat-goblins who make up the bulk of the modern shooter audience.

I know modern shooter fans are considered 'acceptable targets' here, but this is still a rather douchey thing to say.

OT: To be honest I don't really care about cover art. If changing the style gets the game more sales, I'm not really seeing a problem with it.

Porecomesis:
Is it not simply possible to do both? I mean, the original Bioshock's cover was interesting enough to attract such a large audience and make Bioshock Infinite possible in the first place. The original Bioshock's cover managed to convey what you were in for if you bought the game.

Did it do well? Compared to the likes of GTA4 or Mass Effect 2 or Skyrim which had similar metascores at least, bioshock did not do as comparatively well. The cover arts was likely only a small part of that, though.

And did the cover art of Bioshock REALLY tell you about the game? Or did it just corroborate what you already knew from other sources that most others had not read or seen.

I'm more shocked that people are shocked by the idea that the creative team behind the original Bioshock are more interested in creating what is essentially interactive propaganda than creating a game for the sake of a game. I thought that it was quite blatantly clear that the first game set out to do what it could to install a second asshole into the Libertarian philosophy, and this time round it looks a lot like they're going to take a baseball bat to the knee caps of the tea party movement.

It'd be a waste of perfectly good propaganda not to try and sneak it into the game collections of otherwise unaware fraternity types.

Eclipse Dragon:

All characters with the exception of Cole are holding guns. All characters are male and at least 7 are white. The remaining are too covered in dramatic lighting to tell; Master Chief is wearing a helmet. Socom 4 has three white guys holding guns.

The problem is not the cover art, the problem is the fact that these games ARE ABOUT men using guns, or some other sort of gameplay weapon as in the case of Cole with his lightning powers.

And Bioshock Infinite is about a man using guns. It's not portal, it's not about a (Hispanic?) woman solving puzzles with wormholes, it's about a white man shooting people.

For the cover art to show anything else... that's wishful thinking manifesting as false advertising.

If you don't want to play a game about white guys shooting people, then it's helpful that the box art tells you which games these are.

What cover art would you actually propose for a game like COD4? And NOT the cover art of the game you WISH that COD4 was, but for the game COD4 actually is, and don't take the piss, it has to both make the game look good and be true to what it IS!

You know what really turns me off that cover? It's not the grizzled old hero, or the "'Murica!", or even the Zeppelin.

No what really bothers me is how much other crap they have on there. It's not just the game cover and the System, it's "Only Available on PlayStation!" "PlayStation Move Compatible!" "Includes the Original Bioshock!!" To me all that's worse than having a generic cover

Squilookle:

Grey Carter:

He did mention that 2K will be providing alternate covers that gamers can print off themselves.

Oh well as far as I'm concerned, all is forgiven. The only thing better would be a more artistic reversible cover printed on the other side, but hey- they have the alternative, and that's good enough.

Gasp! My secret is out! I must escape before the government catches up to me!

Grey Carter:

"One, we need to be successful to make these types of games," he said, "and I think it's important, and I think the cover is a small price for the hardcore gamer to pay."

So...

I mean, I agree on the second point, more or less, but the first. What? Were the last two Bioshocks not successful?

burningdragoon:

IamLEAM1983:
Print two covers on a single sheet. Don't like Bro-oker DeWitt looking all forlorn and badass? Flip it over. There ya go: Elisabeth and Songbird or Columbia's majestic vistas or whatever else feels arbitrarily more evocative or artistically relevant.

Done. Also, /thread

Came in the thread just to say this. Seriously. We even have a recent precedent with Mass Effect 3 giving both Sheps a cover.

I recall something similar with Borderlands 2 - on one side you had your required people-with-guns pick, while on the flip side you got something a bit artier. Or I suppose, you buy the collectors edition, which will probably have something a bit more "refined" on the cover. Or the Songbird Edition, if you're feeling particularly flush.

Treblaine:

Eclipse Dragon:

snip

The problem is not the cover art, the problem is the fact that these games ARE ABOUT men using guns, or some other sort of gameplay weapon as in the case of Cole with his lightning powers.

And Bioshock Infinite is about a man using guns. It's not portal, it's not about a (Hispanic?) woman solving puzzles with wormholes, it's about a white man shooting people.

For the cover art to show anything else... that's wishful thinking manifesting as false advertising.

If you don't want to play a game about white guys shooting people, then it's helpful that the box art tells you which games these are.

What cover art would you actually propose for a game like COD4? And NOT the cover art of the game you WISH that COD4 was, but for the game COD4 actually is, and don't take the piss, it has to both make the game look good and be true to what it IS!

I was only pointing out how many of them followed that formula (using visual examples) yes, the game is about a white guy who shoots things and of course it make's sense that the cover art would show that white guy, shooting things, but that doesn't answer the problem as to why so many of them need to also include explosions, or why the game needs to star a white guy in the first place. If you notice quite a few of them also follow the same composition (guy is in the center with some stuff going on around him) and quite a few of them also have dark hair. There is a visual formula these people are following.

I don't think it would be too hard to find an appropriate middle-ground in the whole art vs appeal thing.
How about this?

Broker and Elizabeth on one of the larger, more open floating islands. They're both standing, damn near terrified, as they witness the start of an apocalypse, taking up the majority of the cover. Buildings with fire and smoke coming out of the windows, people gunning each other down in the streets, flags burning on the flagpoles they're still attached to, Songbirds, Handymen, Boys of Silence and that George Washington animatron thing adding to the chaos. The two characters would only be taking up a small section of the cover near the bottom to free up more space.

It conveys the a good amount of the game's content, (story premise, enemies) and ignorant onlookers will look at it and go "OMGSPLOSHUNS".

I'd love to see a cover of just Columbia, floating in the air. The whole city, from far away. I think that'd look pretty sweet, but I guess you need more for a cover. I was disappointed in this, but hey, it's the cover of a fucking box. I'm just gonna focus on the game now.

I know this is only slightly related, but that NeoGaf thread of cover arts posted at the end of the article is amazing. I didn't know such a website existed before today, and now I might have to print some of those.

Not sure anyone mentioned it yet, but the original Bioshock will only be available for the US PS3 release, not in EU.

>appealing to a wider audience

Well, I know one game I won't be buying.

Huh.

Well, I guess I'm gonna have to be the one to say it.

The box art is awesome, and would make for a sweet poster.

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