Naughty Dog "Flat-Out Refused" to Change Last of Us Cover

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Double post, sorry guys...

Wait, Ellie being in front of Joel on the game cover was actually a controversy?

...Did I miss something? Did the apocalypse already pass and now I'm imagining stupid video game controversies to occupy my mind while I deal with the inevitable traumatic stress an apocalypse?

Djaevlenselv:
At the risk of completely missing the point, I thought I should point out that female dominated covers have always been accepted and even common-place in the industry... as long as they were sexualized.

Yeah but that's only if the game has a plus +70% female playable character roaster list right? Games where it's about even, mostly guys, has a character editor/generator and/or Main Character(Male) they usually have a Guy as the center-stage biggest close-up on the cover.

Like the cover for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
A Nemesis (Male) towering over in the back, Vector out ahead of everyone else in the middle of Beltway and Spectre and finally (the 3 women) Bertha, Lupo, and Four Eyes at the end of the "V" line-up of to the sides. Oh further insult to injury Lupo's the in-game story Leader of the Squad and doesn't get the forward spot on the cover. Playable Characters gender split is even at 3-3 Campaign or 6-6 Competitive with up to 4 on a team and the "Rival" team being a gender swap of the original 6.

The issue isn't any better when the game lets you make your own Main Character it's always(?) a Male character. (Mass Effect 3 doesn't count as it was technically the alternate main cover art.)

Matt Dellar:
I love this cover, except for one thing: "Only On PlayStation."

Maybe I'll get a PS3 for this. I've always wanted to play a game where there's a non-sexualized female lead in an action-oriented role. I'd be a lot more interested if they just made a PC release, though.

Yeah, I was particularly disappointed when I found out this was a PS3 exclusive. It's a game that looks like it's got a lot of heart, and for once I'd like to experience an emotive video game story that isn't just angst, and with a child character who isn't just a load to the protagonist.

I was going to get the game long before the cover was unveiled; but I think they ought to change it up a little bit. I think most of the essential imagery for the cover is fine, and is an ideal way the convey the game, but I don't get the right immediate impression from the cover.

I don't think it conveys to a customer who isn't informed about the industry that this is a major, quality product and something of a marker on the overall games library at this stage of the generation's lifespan. They're more likely to assume it's a second tier side-track title and something along the expectation level of I Am Alive.

The title placement, the size of the overall image crop, and the trench-like street are the things that seem a bit "Off" to me.

The image succeeds in conveying 'barrenness', but the impression I get is of barrenness of the game world, rather than a narrative theme. Barrenness and linearity, as I interpret from the street.

I think they should open up the street somewhat, and possibly change that angle aswell. If they move the title around, they can shift Joel a bit to the left, so that he doesn't appear to be in Ellie's shadow and you get a better impression of a partnership between the two.

Hmmm, interesting. I think that the cover is already male-centric as is! (I am a male, btw)

The guy is obviously leading, while the woman is following. He has a determined look in his face, while the woman has either a fearful stare for what's coming after them or a longing look at what they've lost. Either way, the guy is the one who seems to be in charge. So it appears to me that the girl is the one that needs protecting by the cool dude. Seems sexist as is.

In any case, that is my opinion

I don't agree with that. The image does convey that he is her 'guardian', but not in the unblemished He-man sense.

Ellie's expression doesn't convey fear so much as an anxious burden of responsibilty. Her placement relative to Joel suggests that she will be a more central character to the narrative.

This is why people in charge of marketing games suck at their jobs and why every shooter game these days has generic soldiers doing the Battlefield pose, usually with some sort of fire or explosion giving them an orange glow on their junk areas.

Then again, I'm used to printing out my own covers. Some of my favorite games have some truly awful covers (ICO, Resident Evil Remake, Silent Hill 4, Mass Effect 2, etc.) It's amazing seeing what some fans can do to make a game cover look as good as the game itself deserves, but it's still bothersome that most execs in charge still cling to the "rawr, generic white guy with gun on cover. Rawr, add more explosions" Call of Duty-like mindset.

Khanht Cope:
I was going to get the game long before the cover was unveiled; but I think they ought to change it up a little bit. I think most of the essential imagery for the cover is fine, and is an ideal way the convey the game, but I don't get the right immediate impression from the cover.

I don't think it conveys to a customer who isn't informed about the industry that this is a major, quality product and something of a marker on the overall games library at this stage of the generation's lifespan. They're more likely to assume it's a second tier side-track title and something along the expectation level of I Am Alive.

The title placement, the size of the overall image crop, and the trench-like street are the things that seem a bit "Off" to me.

The image succeeds in conveying 'barrenness', but the impression I get is of barrenness of the game world, rather than a narrative theme. Barrenness and linearity, as I interpret from the street.

I think they should open up the street somewhat, and possibly change that angle as well. If they move the title around, they can shift Joel a bit to the left, so that he doesn't appear to be in Ellie's shadow and you get a better impression of a partnership between the two.

Well that's only the basic box art I'm sure they have some praises and accolades to add to the cover when it's goes out to market. to help entice unfamiliar shoppers. Though yeah I wish it spiced up a little bit more too. but it might not want to ruin the surprise of who will be attacking you later on and how "The Last of Us" is only really about Ellie and Joel.

Really?

I think this is a fake controversy Naughty dog is exaggerating for publicity. Everyone does it. It's a pretty good talking point so i don't mind.

I think EA pretending a medal of honour side would be called Taliban or whatever but then somehow changing all the games a week before going Gold was pretty obvious.

The cover looks pretty good...it will catch most eyes; FPS players, mothers, rpg'ers. It looks different and it shows off the 'i am legend' environment in the background. That and 'After Earth' and 'Oblivion' being released probably at the same time, may make people more curious

Trishbot:
This is why people in charge of marketing games suck at their jobs and why every shooter game these days has generic soldiers doing the Battlefield pose, usually with some sort of fire or explosion giving them an orange glow on their junk areas.

Then again, I'm used to printing out my own covers. Some of my favorite games have some truly awful covers (ICO, Resident Evil Remake, Silent Hill 4, Mass Effect 2, etc.) It's amazing seeing what some fans can do to make a game cover look as good as the game itself deserves, but it's still bothersome that most execs in charge still cling to the "rawr, generic white guy with gun on cover. Rawr, add more explosions" Call of Duty-like mindset.

This is a bit off topic, but what kind of paper do you find works well for printing alternate covers? I've been trying, but I've yet to find anything crisp enough and strong enough to do the job.

The cover sucks.

Not enough girls stripped down to their underwear. That girl? Touch her up a little with photoshop and then you'll get the sex appeal. Because that's what sells, duh. You either go for male power or sex fantasies.

/totallykidding

So THAT is why Beyond Good and Evil didnt sell...It had Jade on its cover, game never had a chance :(

Anyways looking forward to this game.

Next thing you know we'll see a cover for a AAA game that only features a fully-clothed, non-sexualized woman and no men. That will be the height of misandry in the industry.

(The misandry comment was a joke, in case anyone missed it. I understand how a statement like that could be taken seriously on this forum though.)

Can't believe anybody actually had a problem with this. Still pretty generic cover art but at least it's not purely "White dude with gun looking ominously in the distance.

chaos order:

Souplex:
I'm worried about Naughty Dog. First they don't release Uncharted Racing, now they move on to a game where a racing game wouldn't fit.

WHERES THE LIKE BUTTON!

but seriously people had a problem with the cover of this game? REALLY?! i mean if people complained about a kid having a gun then ya maybe i can see a point (id disagree, but at least its more reasonable) but having a problem with a girl on the front?

I think the Escapist really needs a +1 option like G+ or at least a like option for sure.

And I agree in that it doesn't really bother me since I don't find anything in particular wrong with this type of cover.

There was an interesting article two years back about Activision outright refusing female leads and purposely changing True Crime 3's (which was previously known as Black Lotus and was finally released as Sleeping Dogs under Square Enix) to a guy since female leads don't sell: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/29719/InDepth_No_Female_Heroes_At_Activision.php

To be quite honest I don't think they are that far off, look at past games featuring female leads like Oni, Mirror's Edge, Beyond Good & Evil, WET, Velvet Assassin, No One Lives Forever (well there was a second part there) etc. Games like StarCraft: Ghost were even cancelled before they released.

You'll notice that they have one thing in common, which is that they didn't get any sequels yet, let alone to talk about *franchises* and they didn't sell very well no matter how good they were.

The only two exceptions that come to mind are Tomb Raider/Lara Croft (which was established back in 1996), the appeal should be rather obvious and Metroid (which was established even further back in 1986), although Samus is covered up in armor for the largest part of the games and appears as such on most covers.

Bayonetta also sold rather disappointingly, at least for SEGA who had high expectations: http://www.vg247.com/2009/08/21/sega-coo-talks-about-company-expectations-for-bayonetta/
It would very likely not have gotten a sequel if Nintendo didn't step in because they needed an "Exclusive" title to prop their new console a bit, we will see how that will develop.

From the Mass Effect 2 Stats we for instance know that only 18% of the players played as Female Shepard and I guess that includes a lot of guys that liked Jennifer Hale since I know a few: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-07-20-bioware-18-percent-play-mass-effect-as-femshep
If a similar (or even smaller amount) of customers wouldn't grab a game for that reason because it doesn't instantly appeal, it could pretty much explain the sales troubles.

This is also an interesting article about a study into this "issue": http://www.gameranx.com/features/id/10438/article/study-of-box-art-reveals-games-that-feature-non-sexualized-women-on-the-box-don-t-sell-well/

That said, from what I've seen of the game so far it's mostly about following the girl around as military dude and keeping her safe anyway (or at least that's what they've shown, shooting guys and killing stuff). I don't even know if she's playable at all. It looks more like a PR spiel to gather some brownie points with the "sexism" crowd and in regards to the Bioshock: Infinite cover on their part because those are the "in" things right now.

JeanLuc761:

Trishbot:
This is why people in charge of marketing games suck at their jobs and why every shooter game these days has generic soldiers doing the Battlefield pose, usually with some sort of fire or explosion giving them an orange glow on their junk areas.

Then again, I'm used to printing out my own covers. Some of my favorite games have some truly awful covers (ICO, Resident Evil Remake, Silent Hill 4, Mass Effect 2, etc.) It's amazing seeing what some fans can do to make a game cover look as good as the game itself deserves, but it's still bothersome that most execs in charge still cling to the "rawr, generic white guy with gun on cover. Rawr, add more explosions" Call of Duty-like mindset.

This is a bit off topic, but what kind of paper do you find works well for printing alternate covers? I've been trying, but I've yet to find anything crisp enough and strong enough to do the job.

I've always used a sort of heavy label-type paper that Staples recommended. I don't know what exactly it's called, sadly.

Trivun:
It's interesting then to compare the approach of Naughty Dog (who I respect anyway, they gave me the early Crash, Ratchet and Jak games after all...) to that of Ken Levine and 2K Games, with the differing styles. One is focusing on the young female deuteragonist, while the other focuses on the manly gun-toting protagonist, and the reasons given for each art style are completely different. Personally, I don't look at the art of a game to decide whether to buy it, I already know what games I like and I'll take a look and read up on something regardless of what the box cover looks like. What the game itself looks like, and plays like, is more improtant in my eyes.

At any rate, I have great hopes for both games, and will most certainly be getting Bioshock Infinite, and lament sadly at my inability to get The Last Of Us (because as I've so often said before, to no avail, exclusive titles are the curse of the gaming industry, and shouldn't be allowed, but tough luck I guess...). I wonder though, if the sales will reflect the art, or more importantly will the sales reflect the quality of each game?

2K Games and Naughty Dog admittedly are in somewhat different positions. Bioshock's core fanbase will be buying the game based on actual info, or the mere notion that it's Bioshock n+1. For them the largest demographic influenced by box art is indeed the broshooter, who favours the grizzled cliche.

The Last of Us, on the other hand, isn't established as a series yet, and lacks a core fanbase.

... and definitely +1 on that exclusive titles are a bloody shame. I like my PC gaming, yesh?

This is all kinds of sad on so many levels.

I wish this game came to PC :(

Nihlus2:
Good on Naughty Dog. I find it interesting that this was even an issue, considering she is the main focus, and probably the only game I will ever acknowledge is being partially an escort quest game, yet looks very compell-AAAH IT BURNS!

In all seriousness though, Naughty Dog has yet to disappoint as a developer, which is quite an achievement these days. They know when to make something, what to focus on, and when to quit before it turns into a saturiation-fest (although Crash was digged up from his grave and crushed into the ground after they left *snif*).
They want this, and have had the vision for a while. This speaks to the story they want to tell. And I swear this, and Bioshock Infinite's cover art looks a thousand times more compelling then "X Broad-shouldered space marine wanna-be" on yet another box cover.

Looking forward to both of those games. And here's to Naughty Dog going strong in the future.

Good for them standing up to the critics for something they believe in. More importantly though, what's the game about? Looks like some sort of survival game.

Dexter111:
There was an interesting article two years back about Activision outright refusing female leads and purposely changing True Crime 3's (which was previously known as Black Lotus and was finally released as Sleeping Dogs under Square Enix) to a guy since female leads don't sell: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/29719/InDepth_No_Female_Heroes_At_Activision.php

To be quite honest I don't think they are that far off, look at past games featuring female leads like Oni, Mirror's Edge, Beyond Good & Evil, WET, Velvet Assassin, No One Lives Forever (well there was a second part there) etc. Games like StarCraft: Ghost were even cancelled before they released.

You'll notice that they have one thing in common, which is that they didn't get any sequels yet, let alone to talk about *franchises* and they didn't sell very well no matter how good they were.

The only two exceptions that come to mind are Tomb Raider/Lara Croft (which was established back in 1996), the appeal should be rather obvious and Metroid (which was established even further back in 1986), although Samus is covered up in armor for the largest part of the games and appears as such on most covers.

Bayonetta also sold rather disappointingly, at least for SEGA who had high expectations: http://www.vg247.com/2009/08/21/sega-coo-talks-about-company-expectations-for-bayonetta/
It would very likely not have gotten a sequel if Nintendo didn't step in because they needed an "Exclusive" title to prop their new console a bit, we will see how that will develop.

From the Mass Effect 2 Stats we for instance know that only 18% of the players played as Female Shepard and I guess that includes a lot of guys that liked Jennifer Hale since I know a few: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-07-20-bioware-18-percent-play-mass-effect-as-femshep
If a similar (or even smaller amount) of customers wouldn't grab a game for that reason because it doesn't instantly appeal, it could pretty much explain the sales troubles.

This is also an interesting article about a study into this "issue": http://www.gameranx.com/features/id/10438/article/study-of-box-art-reveals-games-that-feature-non-sexualized-women-on-the-box-don-t-sell-well/

That said, from what I've seen of the game so far it's mostly about following the girl around as military dude and keeping her safe anyway (or at least that's what they've shown, shooting guys and killing stuff). I don't even know if she's playable at all. It looks more like a PR spiel to gather some brownie points with the "sexism" crowd and in regards to the Bioshock: Infinite cover on their part because those are the "in" things right now.

good post and all but i just wanted to add that wet and velvet assassin was actually quite badly recieved critically so that might be another reason why they failed.
also around the time i heard mirrors edge came out, if my memory serves right, fable 2 was also coming out so that might have hurt its sales a bit too.

Dexter111:

To be quite honest I don't think they are that far off, look at past games featuring female leads like Oni, Mirror's Edge, Beyond Good & Evil, WET, Velvet Assassin, No One Lives Forever (well there was a second part there) etc. Games like StarCraft: Ghost were even cancelled before they released.

The only two exceptions that come to mind are Tomb Raider/Lara Croft (which was established back in 1996), the appeal should be rather obvious and Metroid (which was established even further back in 1986), although Samus is covered up in armor for the largest part of the games and appears as such on most covers.

Bayonetta also sold rather disappointingly, at least for SEGA who had high expectations: http://www.vg247.com/2009/08/21/sega-coo-talks-about-company-expectations-for-bayonetta/
It would very likely not have gotten a sequel if Nintendo didn't step in because they needed an "Exclusive" title to prop their new console a bit, we will see how that will develop.

I think Bayonetta's problems were compounded by how obnoxious most of the direction and aesthetic design were. I played the demo a couple of times and was very impressed by the gameplay, I thought it was basically the Devil May Cry formula refined to completion, and probably the best pure gameplay of any action game; but I vowed never to buy or play it, not just because of my dislike of its swagger, but also because I couldn't get around the feeling that I would go to hell if I did play it.

I think the rest of those games have issues outside their lead character, relative to my gaming tastes. I didn't buy Strangehold over Wet for example. (I played the demo for both, and the only one I remember is the Wet demo. I don't remember any of Strangehold AT ALL)

I always found the cover for Oni alluring, but I was younger at the time and my buying habit largely consisted of pulling together money for pre-owned entries for reputed series that I knew I would enjoy like Legacy of Kain; while I couldn't make out what, if any, reputation Oni had made with its gameplay.

I must say I love the cover for No One Lives Forever 2. If that were a console game around nowadays, I would definately get an itch to check that out.

What? Seriously? Female is slightly closer to camera than grizzled man = controversy?

Yeah I am not buying that, though let's be honest that same part of the internet that could be outraged at that is the same part of the internet that have never touched a woman without getting maced.

Some people consider this controversial?
image
Oh Internet, you never cease to disgust me. By the headline though, it sounded like Naughty Dog was making an ass of themselves. Damn. But in all seriousness, good for you, Naughty Dog. Between this and replaying the Jak and Daxter games lately, I'm starting to respect you again. So here's hoping The Last of Us doesn't suck.

Captcha: Kindness of strangers. Hardly in this case, Captcha. Hardly indeed.

Hmmmmmmm.

I wonder if Quantatic Dream are going to get pressured into taking Jodie of the front cover in favour of a badass invisible picture of Idan striking an invisible pose with an invisible gun.... Because that could be interesting.

Also colour me surprised. A game being released in America with appropriate box art. Are you guys sure would couldn't slap some tits and explosions on there, somewhere.... Because it wouldn't feel right if not.

Not that it's particularly relevant but I'm pretty sure that ninja theory proved conclusively you don't need a male dominated cover to sell well. EDIT: Team Ninja not Ninja Theory.

This is fucking bullshit! What on earth makes them think that game geeks - a stereotypically awkward and lonely bunch - want to buy games with big strapping men on the cover, as opposed to scantily dressed chicks with boobs the size of their head?

Take X-Blades for instance. I know for a fact I would not have bought that game if it was some dude on the cover with his ass hanging out. Thats just crazy.

Has this sexism in gaming thing got to the point where people are moaning about the box art, christ people have too much time on their hands. First if you buy games or allow your purchases to be influenced based on the box art your opinion does not count, on anything, anywhere, ever, because you are clearly an idiot. But if you are going to discuss box art I thought it would be prudent to have the main characters on the front alright. The game also sees you play as Joel who's focus is to protect Ellie so she essentially is the objective and the box art kind of puts emphasis on that. Just my opinion anyway.

Sorry, quoted wrong person.

Souplex:
I'm worried about Naughty Dog. First they don't release Uncharted Racing, now they move on to a game where a racing game wouldn't fit.

I thought of that joke so long ago, shame I didn't act on it and make that picture.

OT: Good, ND is one of those studios that broke a lot of molds, and I'm glad they can continue being their own person other than an industry slave.

Dexter111:

From the Mass Effect 2 Stats we for instance know that only 18% of the players played as Female Shepard and I guess that includes a lot of guys that liked Jennifer Hale since I know a few: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-07-20-bioware-18-percent-play-mass-effect-as-femshep
If a similar (or even smaller amount) of customers wouldn't grab a game for that reason because it doesn't instantly appeal, it could pretty much explain the sales troubles.

Well I played as a male shepard... But I've also played and highly rate the majority of the games you mentioned. I think you can attribute the rather one sided ratio of male to female sheps to people not caring what character they're playing as and just going with the default.

I also think most men who don't have any kind of issue playing as a female character would still default to male if given the choice. Simply because it seems odd making a female avatar when you're male. That's the reason I didn't play as a female shep, and the reason I've never made a female character in any RPG. Doesn't mean I'd be put off by a female protagonist.

Another reason for those games' poor sales, could have been because the majority of them are either relatively unknown or niche titles. 'Velvet Assassin' didn't exactly get much pre release PR, and 'WET' was fucking horrible to be honest. 'Mirror's Edge' is a first person platforming game (pretty notorious amongst certain crowds.... even though it's probably my favourite game up there.) I have to admit I've never heard of 'No one lives Forever' and 'Beyond Good and Evi'l is somewhat of a cult classic. And Bayonetta? Well it's a hardcore Japanese beat em up. Historically, not the west's cup of tea. I'm pretty sure it sold outstandingly in Japan.

Well, I don't see the problem with this cover. Bioshock's case was more of having only the main lead with guns and looking badass, as if rescuing damsels in distress was his full time job. This cover is fine; even if they had just featured the main lead, he looks normal, like an average guy trying to survive in the middle of an urban jungle. Literally.

So I'm fine with it. I'm a fan of Naughty Dog so...kudos!

Dear Escapist,

May I ask for where this box art has apparently caused controversy? I haven't heard or seen anything of the sort.

Or was it just two people on a single forum kicking up a fuss?

Because at the moment, I'm under the impression that this isn't news, but just some way of Naughty Dog plugging some publicity on this site.

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