Thursday, December 22, 2011

Regarding What Makes A Great Video Game Box

Posted this over on NEOGAF, figure I'd share it here as well. Overall, the response to our new TM box has been super positive (so thanks for that- very relieved!) but some folks were saying they still liked the TM:B box the best. So here is what I wrote:

Regarding the TM BLACK box: I really love that box art as well but it really taught me a great lesson which is this: in the 60 dollar (i.e. expensive) retail space, box art first and foremost needs to be functional. It can- and should- be evocative and artistic, but more importantly- IF it is to do its job and act as another salesperson for the title- the box needs to catch the eye while explaining- to SOME degree- the experience inside the box that we are asking people to give us 60 bucks for. 

The folks inclined to be attracted to a box because it's mostly/only unique or clever or artistic TEND to be a lot of the same folks who read the game sites and already know if they want the game to begin with. The box is really there to catch the eye and mind of folks who've never heard of your title or who have heard of it but are not sold just yet.

So yeah, I loved the TMB box but TMB was also the worst selling TM game in history (other than Small Brawl). And it was released for the #1 console system at the time. Yeah, you could argue the M rating is what did it in and you could argue that POSSIBLY- except among the core fans of the niche genre- that car combat as a genre was on the wane. And those things may have been- and may still be- true. But I have to think the box art- cool as it was- didn't do us any sales favors.

Another great example is the Resistance 3 box art. I think it's a wonderful image and a fantastic artistic box but I think- as a sales tool- it's a pretty terrible box front. I think the new Saint's Row is a FANTASTIC game that has a GREAT, iconic box front but I don't think it serves the game as a sales tool.

Ok ya'll- off to start the day! Talk soon!



TyrantII said...

Not sure on the expense of doing so, but how about dual sided covert art?

I know with Resistance 3 you can flip the cover art for one without a lot of the mess.

With Twisted Metal you could do the "Retail" cover and the flip side could be your "Artistic" cover.

Win/win, especially if a collectors edition isn't planned.

Personally, I wish more Dev's did this.

David Jaffe said...


hard to do on this particular one. We chose the current box cause the white/negative space pops on the shelf. Problem is- from what I gather- if you print a version on the other side- especially one with fire and darker images- it will bleed thru and take away from the white space on the main cover. Otherwise, I'd be all over it.


TyrantII said...

Ouch, didn't even think of that, but you're exactly right! That is a problem with the white cover.

But I love the front anyways, so it's not really a big deal to me personally.

Either way, it's only a small thing.

If anyone is not happy with the Art, there's always DIY and a trip to kinko's to print it in the same quality. Changing out cover art is already a big thing for BD/DVD collectors, especially when condensing those big box sets in multidisk cases.

Heck, you could even put up the ones that don't make the cut, or have a fan contest at the ESP website. Have some signed giveaway's and post the winners for all to print on their own.

Keep up the great work!

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Anish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anish said...

Dave, I personally don't believe in sacrificing artistic integrity for sales/commercial reasons. Twisted Metal has more than just a cult following in my opinion, but the true fans such as myself also hold great value in it's story, ambiance, and atmosphere. And all of this is credited to your teams unique vision, imagination, and creative ability. In my opinion, TM:Black was the best game in the series to date (not including TM:PS3) not simply because of game mechanics, but because your team was allowed to let their creative ability run free. This allowed for a truly artistic and ingenious environment to be created which allowed players and true fans alike to be fully immersed in the Black universe, fully realizing your vision. The box art for TM:Black is one of my all time favorite box arts of any game ever. Because it is a pure work of art that provides a window into the emotions that are relayed by playing the game. It was a masterpiece.

I am not a fan of the box art that was chosen for TM PS3 because it makes a mature franchise that has an enormous amount of depth seem superficial. I do understand where Sony is trying to go with this by trying to make a game that may be largely unknown to those of the "new generation" appeal to the masses. But honestly, in my mind there should be more things important than just sales when it comes to producing a work of art. Especially one that has an incredibly strong fan following for so many years because of it's deep and mature nature. To tell you the truth, i feel as if this box cover makes the great concept and world of TM seem immature. It just makes it seem like "a game where you blow up cars and stuff" which is further reinforced by the rear box art reading "Twisted Metal returns to redefine destruction and mayhem" also showing more vehicular destruction in the art work.

Dave, I just feel like there should at least be a median within the universe of making sales and producing a true work of art. I mean it's not like this is the first twisted metal game ever where you need to "explain what the game is about" on the box art. This is one of the longest running franchises in PlayStation history with great depth and mature themes to match it's stellar game play mechanics. I really feel like a game as mature as this should consist of box art representative of the genius behind the game. This box art just seems childish.