Staring at Box Art, What I've Learned: GOTY, Gold Edition Redux

Recently I spent some time looking at video game box art. This happened shortly after I became fascinated by the Box In Box Art concept.

Here are some observations and things I've to come to realize, appreciate or accept about (Box in) Box Art, Game of the Year Editions and Giant Bomb.

Box Art: It's a Regional Thing

The first thing I noticed, video game box art can be wildly significantly different depending on which side of the Atlantic (or Pacific) Ocean the boxes are sold.

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This becomes particularly apparent when looking at 'double packs' or '2-in-1 bundles', I found a wild wide variety in box art between platforms and regions. Some bundled editions seem to only exist in Europe, for example the Assassin's Creed Double Pack. I haven't been able to find proof of any US version, the closest things I came across were an Assassin's Creed I&II Ultimate Collection for PC or the Assassin's Creed Trilogy.

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Neither of these would qualify for a spot in the Box In Box Art gallery, unlike the European Assassin's Creed Double Pack, but only the Xbox 360 version.

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Then there is also a difference in box art for bundles of the same games for the same consoles in the same region, for example the Halo 3 & Fable 2 Bundle. There is a version that (also) came bundled with hardware - Xbox 360 Console or Controller - and an actual 'Double Pack'.

I do realize Giant Bomb is very US-centric and that's fine with me. I did make an effort to hunt down US versions of box art, but in some cases there didn't seem to be any as mentioned above, or they were unsuitable due to size, quality or (Mobygames') watermarks. It's also for this reason I'm reluctant to add 'Games that do this' to the Wiki. For the Box In Box Art category in particular I think the actual box art is more interesting than 'what games do this' anyway.

Play! The Ultimate Casual Game Collection (PC)
Play! The Ultimate Casual Game Collection (PC)

Finally, there are plenty of pictures of boxes that didn't make it, but probably could have, but didn't. A great example is this:

I mean, those are probably boxes, right? During this exercise the cut-off point for me became if the box art contained elements that were recognizable as a box. For me this meant, and I'm talking about 'the box' in the box art here, not the box itself:

  • Some effort or attempt was made to give 'the box' 3-dimensional properties, to make it look like a box.
  • In addition to the box art, 'the box' has visual properties similar and typical to the physical box it represents, mainly ratings logos or labels like 'PC DVD' or 'PC CDrom'.

Flat images of just the box art just couldn't satisfy me anymore, although I'm aware that they could easily fit the description or criteria for the Box In Box Art concept.

Publisher who also love this concept: UbiSoft, Kalypso Media, Viva Media, Electronic Arts, THQ

Gold Edition: Game of the Year Avant la Lettre

Similarly, with regards to 'Game of the Year' editions, publishers just seem to do whatever they want, including releasing 'Game of the Year' Editions. Possibly the next future example for this rather arbitrary and arrogant form of marketing is a potential, yet unannounced Dead Island 'Game of the Year' Edition.

Apart from the name, 'Game of the Year' editions aren't new. That is the idea of bundling the original game with additional content or later versions and re-releasing it as 'Complete Collection', 'Anthology' or 'Gold Edition'.

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After looking at plenty of boxes and box art, it seems to me that 'Game of the Year Edition' is more or less exactly what 'Gold Edition' was for (PC) games years ago. Of course the terminology is different, nowadays it's 'DLC' versus 'Expansion' in that bygone era. With the advent of digital distribution and downloading of games, the physical 'Gold Edition' too has become more and more a thing of the past. Probably some of the last cases of DLC released on discs - not talking about that game Capcom sold you - were probably the Borderlands and Fallout 3 DLC packs and Dragon Age Awakening.

Although there will be an 'Ultimate Edition' for Fallout: New Vegas, it's a sign of the times that Bethesda chose to skip the physical release of DLC and went straight for what is de-facto a 'Game of the Year' bundle.

What's Next: Some things to think about

During my search for appropriate box art, I stumbled upon various boxes or covers featuring a review score, a quote from a review or both, but not limited to "Game of the Year" or 'Game of the Year' editions. I only started noticing those more consciously after a while, and therefore I don't have a strong case for a concept like "Endorsement or Review Score in Box Art", yet.

One recurring complicating factor here is the regional differences in box art. Good examples are El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron and Deadly Premonition. The UK/EU versions of these games come in boxes with review scores and quotes on them from Eurogamer and Destructoid respectively.

Deadly Premonition PAL
Deadly Premonition PAL

How long until we can buy a Giant Bomb endorsed game?