This really is the first thing that came to mind when I saw the new cover.
CantFaketheFunk described the cover as saying, “this is a sci-fi shooter just like every other sci-fi shooter, only your sidekicks are a guy with a lemon for a face and the girl from House.” And it’s true, the cover does have that “generic space shooter” vibe going.
This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just strange to see. I’m not offended or anything, I’m just curious where they’re going with this and how well it’s going to work. Perhaps you really can get unwary shooter fans to buy an RPG by making it look like a shooter, but does that help in the long run? Are those guys going to have a good time when they find out they have to fuss around with inventory, skill points, and dialog trees?
But if a different box design can get shooter fans to grab the game on impulse, then it stands to reason that it might also cause RPG fans to overlook it. (Keep in mind that a huge portion of the public doesn’t read gaming sites like this one before buying. They shop for games like they shop for everything else: They walk into the store and look for something that strikes their fancy.) Is it worth missing out on people who are predisposed to like your game in order to court a (probably larger) group who will most likely not like it? What happens when the wrong audience shows up?
Shamus Young is a programmer and writer by trade, videogame nitpicker by inclination. If you have the patience for more of his ramblings, they can be found here.