Bioshock: Angry Guy With a Gun

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Posted by shishkebab09 (103 posts) -

So we've all seen the Bioshock Infinite cover. I don't have to waste time with why some people think it's bad and some people think they shouldn't care.

What gets me, though, is their thorough explanation on why they went that route. Sales? Sure, but it's more than that. Ken Levine doesn't just say it's for the sales; he goes into how deeply he believes that it's all about the sales. What concerns me more is how he says a more artful cover would make the "fratboys" think the game isn't all about shooting things as though the game is all about shooting things.

I don't want to sound ranty or preachy or elitist, and the more I type, the more it will sound that way. I've deleted about eight paragraphs now that ended up sounding pompous, so let me just say this:

It isn't all bad. They're aggressively marketing toward an audience other than who's already sold. This is going to help them short-term, and hell, it will even open the doors for a few fratboys on just how cognitive a gaming experience can be.

I guess I just feel that on behalf of those of us whom were already sold on the game based on all its apparent brilliance thus far, and those of us who wanted a box on our shelf to represent that brilliance, we're being taken for granted, and I'm surprised so many of us are taking it so well.

#1 Posted by shishkebab09 (103 posts) -

So we've all seen the Bioshock Infinite cover. I don't have to waste time with why some people think it's bad and some people think they shouldn't care.

What gets me, though, is their thorough explanation on why they went that route. Sales? Sure, but it's more than that. Ken Levine doesn't just say it's for the sales; he goes into how deeply he believes that it's all about the sales. What concerns me more is how he says a more artful cover would make the "fratboys" think the game isn't all about shooting things as though the game is all about shooting things.

I don't want to sound ranty or preachy or elitist, and the more I type, the more it will sound that way. I've deleted about eight paragraphs now that ended up sounding pompous, so let me just say this:

It isn't all bad. They're aggressively marketing toward an audience other than who's already sold. This is going to help them short-term, and hell, it will even open the doors for a few fratboys on just how cognitive a gaming experience can be.

I guess I just feel that on behalf of those of us whom were already sold on the game based on all its apparent brilliance thus far, and those of us who wanted a box on our shelf to represent that brilliance, we're being taken for granted, and I'm surprised so many of us are taking it so well.

#2 Posted by jjnen (661 posts) -

Make a flip cover and everybody wins.

Still, it's kinda sad to put sales before artistic integrity. But that's what you get when your target audience has to be everyone interested in the medium.

#3 Posted by MarkWahlberg (4605 posts) -

@shishkebab09 said:

I guess I just feel that on behalf of those of us whom were already sold on the game based on all its apparent brilliance thus far, and those of us who wanted a box on our shelf to represent that brilliance, we're being taken for granted, and I'm surprised so many of us are taking it so well.

I try to be nice to people on the forums, and I think you mean well, but what the fuck are you talking about?

You are approaching parodic levels of entitlement here. You don't even know if you like the game yet, and already you're upset that... I'm not even sure what you're upset about, to be honest. And now I'm upset. Goddammit. It's a fucking cover. Get over it, wait til Olly Moss makes a replacement, whatever.

#4 Posted by MEATBALL (3244 posts) -

It's just box art. It's a bummer, but I understand wanting to appeal to a mass audience through the cover. At least there will be alternatives, the nicest thing they could do is print a reversible cover with awesome boxart (and maybe lose whatever system banner present on the alt cover).

#5 Posted by csl316 (8688 posts) -

My approach to box art is usually met with a "looks cool," and I already know if I'm preordering the game beforehand.
 
He does have some points about appealing to an average person in the video game aisle.  Targeting box art to that demographic is a compromise I'm willing to make.  I want games like this to succeed, so if they need to do something superficial to market it that's fine by me.  Better than messing with the game itself.

#6 Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles (1701 posts) -

I'm a HUGE Bioshock fan (see my name) and this doesn't bother me. Could the cover be better sure but its not a big deal. This is like some of the old 8 bit era boxes having little to no resemblance of the actual game (except back then the box art was cool but the game usually sucked) anyway if it bothers you that much wait for a fan art slipcover.

#7 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

Marketing. It's an outrage. A goddamn outrage.

#8 Edited by Kyle (2323 posts) -

I was gonna write a bunch of words, but said it way better than I was going to, so nevermind.

Just for a bit of perspective, here's the original BioShock's cover:

Big Daddys don't carry guns, so they had to settle for huge fist and giant drill arm.

This is how covers for things work.

And by the way, this is a first-person shooter. Your primary mode of interaction with the game world is shooting shit in the face. So, let's take a step back before we press a bit too hard on the "frat boys" thing, shall we? You are not a scholar for playing BioShock.

@shishkebab09 said:

we're being taken for granted

You are granted. Stop it.

#9 Posted by I_smell (3924 posts) -

I think it's a real shame Irrational felt the need to "explain the blandness of their box art".
 
Someone fucking delete NeoGAF, and Kotaku and 4chan or wherever else this toxic whining always comes from.

#10 Posted by Damodar (1393 posts) -

@Rappelsiini said:

Make a flip cover and everybody wins.

I couldn't agree more. It kills me that such a thing isn't a common occurrence.

#11 Posted by Benny (1953 posts) -

It's fucking box art, holy fucking shit. It doesn't matter.

#12 Edited by SirOptimusPrime (2010 posts) -

@Benny said:

It's fucking box art, holy fucking shit. It doesn't matter.

I really, really, really don't understand what all this discussion is all about. They have a marketing team. They're apparently a decent one, since they've noticed the trend with 'dudes on covers with guns' being pretty good in sales figures. People act like that doesn't actually affect anything, but it's advertisement and - no matter what you say - advertisements work best on the demographic things like this are aimed at: casual gamers.

I imagine it's also a great way to free up the art department for later projects. Less time spent on a fancy cover (not to say designing this cover would take two seconds) and more time on DLC, next game, whatever? Add a guaranteed % of extra sales on top of that and you'd be crazy, or a shitty businessman, to go the other way.

#13 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8699 posts) -

Print your own covers, there's a whole fan community out there dedicated to this kind of stuff.
 
Sure it sucks but games are too expensive, they need all the sales they can get. Sadly.

#14 Posted by Rokkaku (222 posts) -

I can respect both sides of the argument, and I certainly don't blame Irrational for taking the route they have done, but I do see it as an opportunity missed. Maybe this is a sign that this game isn't quite as philosophical as we may think it is. This game seems to have a reputation for being an intellectual statement without too much evidence to support this fact. Other than Ken Levine's well-worded rhetoric, how far will the game really take its musings before being another really, really good shooter? After all, Bioshock had a great premise that never quite panned out when it had to last for 20 hours or so (remember those endings?). I'm taking this as the first sign that maybe we should temper our incredibly high expectations for Bioshock Infinite, and that maybe, just maybe, it might turn out to be a regular old video-game after all.

#15 Posted by Winternet (8019 posts) -

It sounds like a well-thought decision and something that doesn't bother me that much. Surely, I'd prefer if the box cover looked better and more interesting, but that won't prevent me from playing it, because I already know I'm interested in playing it.

This subject is actually a very good one for discussion, but people are taking it the wrong way. We shouldn't discuss why Irrational make the decision to go with that cover, we should be discussing why a dude with a gun will make the game more appealing to the common man instead of an art-deco image of a flying rhino over a 19th century sky city.

#16 Posted by JCGamer (663 posts) -

While I understand people being a bit peeved when covers/posters look terrible, but why do we really care? I collect movies/games and keep all the cases but the only part I really see is the spine. Infinite is a shooter--no matter what we try to elevate it up to, you shoot people. Why shouldn't the developers try to attract the broadest audience possible? Is the cover going to prevent you from buying the game? Or rather is this "generic" cover going to be used against your future argument about how Bioshock Infinite is "art" and should be studied in Universities for years to come.

#17 Posted by Fearbeard (831 posts) -

I'm willing to bet the game ships with a reversible cover.

One side for the marketing, one side for the fans... I think all games should be like that.

#18 Posted by shishkebab09 (103 posts) -

I guess I should add some perspective here. I manage a video game retail shop, so cover art is very important to me as it ends up making a huge part of my job. The cover art isn't JUST the box on the shelf; it's supposed to be the single image that best represents what the developers feel the game is about.

#19 Posted by Sanj (2391 posts) -

Well, at least he's honest.

#20 Posted by believer258 (11914 posts) -

The cover sucks, but whatever. I wish we could have better cover art like Resistance 3, but then that game didn't sell and now Insomniac is making a generic-ass co-op shooter.

So if we keep getting bad covers on good games, I won't complain.

#21 Edited by mordukai (7150 posts) -
“We went and did a tour… around to a bunch of, like, frathouses and places like that. People who were gamers...."

This is more disturbing to me then all the bad box art covers put together. Didn't really expect him to talk out of his ass. Kinda lost some respect I had for the man.

#22 Posted by TheDudeOfGaming (6078 posts) -

It's just box art, so who cares? The game itself will be amazing and that's all that matters.

#23 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -
@shishkebab09

I guess I should add some perspective here. I manage a video game retail shop, so cover art is very important to me as it ends up making a huge part of my job. The cover art isn't JUST the box on the shelf; it's supposed to be the single image that best represents what the developers feel the game is about.

They did research on how to catch people's eye. If you own a shop then you want people to be attracted to a game and buy it.
#24 Posted by StarvingGamer (8248 posts) -

@TaliciaDragonsong said:

Print your own covers, there's a whole fan community out there dedicated to this kind of stuff. Sure it sucks but games are too expensive, they need all the sales they can get. Sadly.

Actually according to the article linked, Irrational is going to be putting out their own set of alternate covers. Man, what is this thread?

#25 Edited by AssInAss (2648 posts) -

@Fearbeard said:

I'm willing to bet the game ships with a reversible cover.

One side for the marketing, one side for the fans... I think all games should be like that.

If all games did that, I'd be perfectly fine. Ken Levine seems to be promising this.

Or just print my own cover.

#26 Posted by Kerned (1170 posts) -

This is from an interview with Levine that went up today on Destructiod. I think he seems to explain the cover perfectly well. Though I don't really understand why he needs to explain the cover in the first place.

D: After reading the recent interview you did with Wired, it came across to me that you really want to reach a wider audience with this one --

KL: It’s not that we want to. We HAVE to.

D: With that intention, I have to wonder: with an intro so long and with very little shooting dudes in the face, how do you approach that?

KL: What I won’t do is compromise the product. People say the cover seem to be – there is an article that says “Look it’s important because it must say something about the game. The game is dumbed down!” [Kotaku] I’ll count on you guys to report on the validity of that. It’s a fairly calculated marketing decision that is based on making these games continue to get made. I can understand the reception from fans.I’ve been thinking a lot about this. You always want to please everybody. The price that I think I’m asking those people to pay is that that the cover that you pick up off the shelf may not be your favorite cover in the universe, but hopefully that cover will help make this game successful, so we can keep making more of them and not compromise in anyway; right now, no one asks us to compromise. They are like “Yep, big complicated directed sequence with no Taliban shooting you in the head. Yup go make that game” and Take-Two has done that so far.There are two things we want to do with the fans. We are definitely doing one of them. We want to communicate with the community and generate a whole pile of alternate covers for the game that we can put on the website so people can print out. And key art, traditional concept art and weird doodles and sketches. You know, so we can really get them arranged. There is another thing I’d like to do but I’m not sure we can for production reasons, so I guess I won’t talk about it yet. But, in the very least, we’ll do that.
#27 Edited by laserbolts (5322 posts) -

Its a shame they want to make money and be successful. You would almost think they were trying to sell a product or something. Fuckin game isnt even out yet and people already trying to pick something to be negative about. Same with the minute long dark souls trailer. FUCK GAMERS.

#28 Posted by Elwoodan (831 posts) -

It's a box that the thing you actually want comes in, unless your hanging your Bioshock Infinite case on the wall I don't see a reason to complain; and I really hope your not going to frame and hang a video game.

#29 Posted by BlatantNinja23 (930 posts) -

@TaliciaDragonsong said:

Print your own covers, there's a whole fan community out there dedicated to this kind of stuff. Sure it sucks but games are too expensive, they need all the sales they can get. Sadly.

Not only will there be a fan community, but irrational themselves will be putting a bunch of extra covers on their site to print out. Ken Levine made it seem like there were going to be some pretty crazy ones in there.

Also, It's box art, it doesn't really matter. It's going to be covered by your other games on your shelf 97% of the time. In the stores, where the box art matters, it'll help sell more.

#30 Edited by TheSouthernDandy (3872 posts) -

@mordukai

“We went and did a tour… around to a bunch of, like, frathouses and places like that. People who were gamers...."

This is more disturbing to me then all the bad box art covers put together. Didn't really expect him to talk out of his ass. Kinda lost some respect I had for the man.

You have to remember though that this is still a business. I have zero problem with this approach if it doesn't compromise the game. If Levine had said "we toured some frat houses and changed the game accordingly" that would be a problem. All they're doing with this is essentially market research on how to present the product. There's nothing deceptive being done, it's still Booker and he does shoot guns. But if it gets some bros to actually pick the game up and discover there's more then CoD and Madden that's awesome. I have no problem with this. It's just box art.

Also a big time dev being transparent about these decisions is pretty great. Good on him.

#31 Posted by Blimble (302 posts) -

Although I couldn't careless what the box art looks like it does suggest that the game might be made in a way to appeal to a bigger audience diluting what made the original so good. It could just be a dumb marketing team but it does make me think this game could just be a cash in

#32 Posted by Daneian (1232 posts) -

I think that sounds like Irrational and 2K are worried what might happen to them if they don't sell enough. As someone who wants more games like this, the idea they could be afraid makes me afraid.

#33 Posted by Jeff (3577 posts) -

@shishkebab09 said:

We're being taken for granted, and I'm surprised so many of us are taking it so well.

Considering how we've all been through DRM, online passes, day-one patches, pre-order "bonuses" and more without breaking a sweat or even slowing down in the number of games we purchase, can you blame them for assuming that? There's a certain segment of the gaming audience that has proved that they'll wade through any amount of shit in order to continue playing games. Some of them will even go out of their way to defend bad products and poor ideas on message boards and elsewhere.

Staff
#34 Posted by GunstarRed (5189 posts) -

I quite like the cover.

#35 Posted by sodacat (217 posts) -

@shishkebab09 said:

What concerns me more is how he says a more artful cover would make the "fratboys" think the game isn't all about shooting things as though the game is all about shooting things.

But the game is all about shooting thing. I never played Bioshock 1, but its demo was all about shooting things. I'm playing Bioshock 2 now, and it's all about shooting things. I've seen some trailers for Infinite, and they are all about shooting things.

#36 Posted by MiamiRedHawks (914 posts) -

I don't think its as awful as people are making it out to be. Most video game cover art is garbage.

#37 Posted by MarkWahlberg (4605 posts) -

@Jeff: Ok, but isn't there a difference between 'we will make them buy more because we know we can' and 'we know they will be basing their purchasing decisions on the other information we've put out there'? I don't much like the cover either, but I fail to see how it qualifies as the audience being taken advantage of.

I hate hate hate being labeled as part of the Entitlement Generation, because everything about that idea is based on false premises, but with what other medium would someone be able to get away with saying 'The cover art for this does not properly take my feelings into account?' If the next Stephen King book had an angry guy with a gun on the cover, no one would give a shit.

#38 Posted by CaptainCody (1506 posts) -

The cover still looks badass, and I understand his logic behind doing it. If this nets them more money then by all fucking means please go for it. If Ken wanted to be a wizard though, he could pull an EA and put his dream cover on the inside if you wanted to invert it.

#39 Posted by Jeff (3577 posts) -

@MarkWahlberg said:

@Jeff: Ok, but isn't there a difference between 'we will make them buy more because we know we can' and 'we know they will be basing their purchasing decisions on the other information we've put out there'? I don't much like the cover either, but I fail to see how it qualifies as the audience being taken advantage of.

I hate hate hate being labeled as part of the Entitlement Generation, because everything about that idea is based on false premises, but with what other medium would someone be able to get away with saying 'The cover art for this does not properly take my feelings into account?' If the next Stephen King book had an angry guy with a gun on the cover, no one would give a shit.

Yeah, I think people that are worried about BioShock Infinite being all about shooting things need to go take a loooong look at what BioShock was. Because that game was about shooting things. They just happened to wrap a pretty awesome story and some inventive upgrade mechanics and abilities around that shooting to make it much, much more than the average first-person shooter.

I don't feel comfortable about your book comparison because I wouldn't be surprised if there was some deep, dark corner of the Internet where people get angry about exactly that. But you're right that game aficionados tend to be really sensitive about these sorts of things. There's still some weird "keep it real" mentality that permeates gaming fandom and that's fine, but it can manifest itself in some really weird ways. People need to remember that most big-ticket games are being funded by large, public companies. The further you go up the chain, the more often "keep it real" starts morphing into "increase shareholder value." That's not to say that the people in the trenches and the people heading up projects aren't out there trying to make big, bold choices with actual artistic merit, but I do think people should try to keep a bit of perspective on all this.

I think all of this, though, is part of the growing up process for the medium. With the increasing rise of "small" games, we're starting to see that split forming, where you've got the big, Summer Blockbuster-style releases that spend a lot of money and need to make it back by being mainstream as fuuuuck and you've go the smaller, indie darlings that are overlooked by many but really resonate with people who take the medium seriously.

Staff
#40 Posted by kindgineer (2728 posts) -

Whenever a post comes up about this sort of thing (box-art, DLC, etc) it always makes me laugh. The internet makes a handful of people who complain sound like a million.

#41 Posted by MarkWahlberg (4605 posts) -

@Jeff said:

I don't feel comfortable about your book comparison because I wouldn't be surprised if there was some deep, dark corner of the Internet where people get angry about exactly that.

Oh, I don't doubt it. And I probably should have used 'movie poster/cover' as an example, since like you pointed out, that company-level production model is more accurate. But even then I doubt a producer/director would feel the need to come out and explain why they gave it the cover they did. Although maybe that's just because games are inherently more connected to the internet and social media stuff. I dunno. Like you said, growing pains.

#42 Posted by Scotto (1185 posts) -

As long as it's a good game, I really don't care what the box art looks like. Is that controversial?

If they need to make the cover Booker DeWitt holding a gun, to satisfy some marketing prerogative, then so be it. It's not like the cover is a lie - I'm gonna go out on a limb and say you spend most of your time in Bioshock Infinite, shooting things.

Where I'd get frustrated, is if the studio were forced to compromise their image of the game itself, in order to make it appeal to casual players (or any demographic, for that matter). But opting for somewhat plain box art, that makes it clear dudes have guns, and things will be shot? Whatever. Should he have been on the cover reading Proust, or staring at a Monet painting instead, to satisfy the ever-sensitive "games as art" crowd?

This entire episode has confused the hell out of me. The original Bioshock's box art was just an image of a Big Daddy, probably because they were an awesome, iconic design that would generate interest in the game on store shelves. These are multi-million dollar undertakings, that need to justify themselves financially to the companies who fund them.

#43 Posted by ReCkLeSs_X (460 posts) -

At the end of the day, it's the game you'll (hopefully) be staring at and not the box it comes in.

I love to see awe-inspring box art, but it's not a deal breaker for me, nor is it offensive.

#44 Posted by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

Its just like the Bioshock cover and reminds me of early American Propaganda, I really could care less about Box Art the only bit I see in the spline with the name of the game on my shelf.

#45 Posted by AuthenticM (3732 posts) -
#46 Posted by shishkebab09 (103 posts) -

@Jeff said:

I think all of this, though, is part of the growing up process for the medium. With the increasing rise of "small" games, we're starting to see that split forming, where you've got the big, Summer Blockbuster-style releases that spend a lot of money and need to make it back by being mainstream as fuuuuck and you've go the smaller, indie darlings that are overlooked by many but really resonate with people who take the medium seriously.

You hit the nail on the head, Jeff. I mentioned earlier that I work for a game retailer, so that forming split is a huge part of my everyday life. I hate to see anything where the developer feels they have to do something a certain way.

#47 Posted by sodacat (217 posts) -

@MarkWahlberg said:

If the next Stephen King book had an angry guy with a gun on the cover, no one would give a shit.

If a novel came out that had an angry white guy with a gun on the cover, while the novel's actual protagonist was a woman, or POC, or didn't actually shoot anyone, then yes, there would be people who would be upset. This is actually a scenario that happens fairly often.

The question is whether this cover fairly represents the content of the game. Based on all the preview footage I've seen I'd say it does.

#48 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

@Winternet said:

This subject is actually a very good one for discussion, but people are taking it the wrong way. We shouldn't discuss why Irrational make the decision to go with that cover, we should be discussing why a dude with a gun will make the game more appealing to the common man instead of an art-deco image of a flying rhino over a 19th century sky city.

I dunno. At this point, based solely on box art, I'd pick any game that didn't feature a guy with a gun on the cover. Guy With Gun is like the Nickleback of box art.

#49 Posted by AngelN7 (2970 posts) -

Artsy/weird covers don't sell games that cover speaks to the people who don't look videogame trailers on youtube don't know about Giantbomb so they see a rugged guy holding a gun and that means "action, adventure , shooting" the game is much more than that but you need to sell the "fun/videogame" part first... also is a cover you won't see it on your shelf.

#50 Posted by Winternet (8019 posts) -

@Ravenlight said:

@Winternet said:

This subject is actually a very good one for discussion, but people are taking it the wrong way. We shouldn't discuss why Irrational make the decision to go with that cover, we should be discussing why a dude with a gun will make the game more appealing to the common man instead of an art-deco image of a flying rhino over a 19th century sky city.

I dunno. At this point, based solely on box art, I'd pick any game that didn't feature a guy with a gun on the cover. Guy With Gun is like the Nickleback of box art.

You're setting yourself to a very low standard, if you're willing to pick any game that doesn't have Guy With Gun cover.

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