This month's topic of Gaming Banter is "How important is cover art to you?" To be honest, I've never really focused or been drawn to what's on the cover of the videogames I buy, as it's the content I've read about that completely wins me over. Does the cover help? Sure it does. It gives me a small glimpse as to what to expect in the game.
The "Tales of" games developed by Namco have always been my favourite in videogame cover arts because they are beautiful yet simple: it's a logo with either the main character or an amalgamation of the different characters from the game. That's it. They're beautifully hand-drawn (digitally or traditional), and always have an air of adventure while still having fun, despite whatever bad thing may happen.
The third and final game in the series is probably my favourite out of all 3. Halo 1 and 2 depict scenes of war, fighting, and Master Chief with guns held up (CE: assault rifle at the viewer; 2: duel-wielding SMGs), ready for whatever may come. Here, the assault rifle is aimed down, as in rest, a sunrise/sunrest in the background depicting either the beginning of something new or the end of a long hard day. It's the peaceful end to a trilogy, where everyone can finally just take a break.
Mass Effect was probably the best game to catch my intrigue about the story, simply from the cover art alone. I took a quick guess that the overseeing eyes in the background were probably those of the main enemy I had to face...but why does his facial structure look similiar to the alien standing on the left? Are they related? IS he the bad guy, defying the main character behind his back?
Not my most favourite of covers of games I own, simply because it's obvious in what it's about: hyper-testosterone males in war with chainsaw guns. "....chainsaw guns?" was my reaction when I took a double-take at the above image, and I could only imagine the kind of gore that could take place once one ran out of bullets. Besides that, my hyper-testosterone guess was pretty accurate.
Ah, Bayonetta. A game I'm ashamed to say I actually sort of enjoy, despite the over-sexualization of absolutely everything. Button-smashing aside, the cover also basically covered what I was expecting: tits and ass with a little bit of convoluted story and humour. Sure, she's showing you her ass. But there's also a gun on her foot that she'll shoot you in the face with.
A game I knew nothing about before I saw this cover...and it still doesn't grab me. It simply looks uninteresting and boring. White and white with red in a somewhat jungle scene? Kind of lost me somewhere. This certainly wouldn't catch my eye amongst the other brilliant covers unless I was specifically looking for it.
Instead of uninteresting, how about a little confusion? The above boxart for the XBox version is when I first heard of Darksiders and I was thoroughly confused. Is it a strategy war game, with fire-footed horses? And why is everything glowing an awful puke yellow-green colour? Is that guy with the big sword some kind of general?
It was after I tried the demo that I understood what the story was: playing War, one of the Horsemen of Apocalypse. Which is what the PS3 cover actually looks like below:
What a difference a bit of actual colour can make. This is certainly more interesting and eye-catching for someone that wants to add another button-smasher to his/her collection. I can see the character, his big-ass gauntlet and that he's a lot flashier than just some general on a battlefield. Kick-ass horse too, by the way.
To sum it up, cover art has never really played an important part in what I do and do not buy, but what marketing and graphics designers do is vital to attracting audiences to their games in the first place. An important aspect of video game production that most people forget about and don't give these hardworking people enough credit for.
(I also apologize for subjecting everyone to that Cho Aniki cover art)
This post was part of Gamer Banter, a monthly video game discussion coordinated by Terry at Game Couch. If you’re interested in being part of this, please email him for details.
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The Average Gamer: Cover Art
Aim for the Head: Browsing the Aisles
SnipingMizzy: In the eye of the beholder
Extra Guy: On Books and Covers
Pioneer Project: The game box's big moment
Man Fat: How Important Is A Game’s Cover Art?