Why It’s Stupid To Complain About Box Art

The internet hive-mind loves to complain about stuff, but Alex explains why it's a fool's errand. 

Erik Norrisby Erik Norris


Recently, fanboys and gals have gone nuts over box art that doesn’t live up to their expectations. The two biggest recent culprits are Irrational Games’ Bioshock Infinite and that of Insomniac Games’ Fuse. I’m here to let those complainers in on something important: complaining about box art is a waste of your time.

Since the birth of commerce, stores and shopkeepers have marketed their wares in an attempt to best generate a profit (or, at worst, to generate any revenue). Now with thousands of years of experience selling items, humans have become not only experts at marketing, we’ve become scientific about it. Hell, we’ve been that way for most products since the early 1980s. There’s a reason why the PS3 is black; there’s a reason why the Xbox plays commercials on it’s marketplace; and, at the core of the packaging of Bioshock Infinite and Fuse, there is a definitive reason for their design.

I’m not here to explain Ken Levine’s defense of the Bioshock Infinite box art. You can read all about his comments at Wired, amongst other outlets. I’m also not here to put the design of Fuse under a microscope, Joystiq covered that just fine.

fuse_box_artInstead, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that there are better things to do with your time. Because you won’t change the box art of either of these games. By complaining about the artwork you’re generating more publicity for the game. In fact, Irrational Games has announced a contest to decide on the reverse-cover art. This all just happens to be timed with the uproar about the official cover art. Right, what a coincidence.

The problem with complaining about box art is that it’s all about getting someone to buy the game. In some cases, it’s there to encourage parents that a cute animated plumber is safe for their kids. In other cases, it’s an awesomely designed action figure that happens to appear in said video game. Hell, there’s a game that has a real-life basketball as part of it’s packaging. Distributors are very adept at understanding what is on the box, why it’s there, and how much space the game might take up on shelves (I’m of the opinion that Microsoft released the gigantic Halo: Reach Legendary Edition just to claim shelf space). So, while fans might get pissy about a Han Solo knock-off ruling the cover of Bioshock Infinite, you’re not likely the reason he’s on there.

Instead of wasting your time complaining about box art, why not spend your internet time with better pursuits. Support the next generation of developers by buying an indie game bundle like this one on Bundle in a Box. Download and play the fan-made (and Capcom supported) Street Fighter X Mega Man. Hell, if you’re still pissed about the Bioshock box art, start lobbying some deviant artists for custom covers (check this one out).

Look, we all realize that the internet was created so that we can bicker and argue. But, after nearly 18 years of playing on the ‘net, I’m here to tell you that your time is better spent supporting positive gaming strides like indie gaming, fan development, and fan art rather than whining. Go out and change the gaming community by supporting the good stuff and save the complaining for having to do chores like cleaning the litter box.

Alex Keen is a contributor to CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @dbldn.