Ken Levine explains BioShock: Infinite cover
- Posted December 11th, 2012 at 09:01 EDT by Mike Harradence
- 5 Comments
Ken Levine, the creator of BioShock: Infinite, has explain Irrational Games’ reasoning for using the game’s controversial boxart, explaining it was necessary in order to sway casual punters off the fence.
The packaging art for the hotly-anticipated FPS depicts protagonist Booker DeWitt in a striking pose with a firearm slung over his shoulder, with Elizabeth neglected to the back cover. All in all, it's not what many people expected from a BioShock title.
Fans unsurprisingly weren’t exactly heaping praise on the art work when it was unveiled last week, though Levine insists there was a reason behind the seemingly uninspired choice.
"I understand that some of the fans are disappointed. We expected it. I know that may be hard to hear, but let me explain the thinking," Levine told Wired.
"We went and did a tour... around to a bunch of, like, frathouses and places like that. People who were gamers. Not people who read IGN. And [we] said, so, have you guys heard of BioShock? Not a single one of them had heard of it."
“And we live in this very special... you know, BioShock is a reasonably successful franchise, right? Our gaming world, we sometimes forget, is so important to us, but... there are plenty of products that I buy that I don't spend a lot of time thinking about. My salad dressing. If there's a new salad dressing coming out, I would have no idea. I use salad dressing; I don't read Salad Dressing Weekly. I don't care who makes it, I don't know any of the personalities in the salad dressing business.”
"For some people, [games are] like salad dressing. Or movies, or TV shows. It was definitely a reality check for us. Games are big, and they're expensive, I think that's very clear .... they have to be financially successful to keep getting made."
Levine then approached the cover of the original BioShock from a neutral point of view:
“I would think, this is a game about a robot and a little girl,” he said. “That’s what I would think. I was trying to be honest with myself.”
"Would I buy that game if I had 60 bucks and I bought three games a year... would I even pick up the box? I went back to the box for System Shock 1, which was obviously incredibly important - that game was incredibly influential on me, System Shock 2 was the first game I ever made. I remember I picked it up… looked at it and I said, I have no idea what this game is. And I didn't have a lot of money back then. So, back on the shelf. And I was a gamer."
For BioShock: Infinite, the overall objective of the cover is to get regular Joe to “pick up the box and say, okay, this looks kind of cool, let me turn it over. Oh, a flying city. Look at this girl, Elizabeth on the back. Look at that creature. And start to read about it, start to think about it.”
Still, hardcore gamers aren’t being left out in the cold. Levine promised a range of alternate covers that can be downloaded and printed, which will be decided by the community.
“We need to be successful to make these types of games, and I think it's important, and I think the cover is a small price for the hardcore gamer to pay," he said. "I think also when we do something for the hardcore gamer, there's something we're talking about and something we're sure about. The thing we're sure about is that we're going to be releasing a whole set of alternate covers that you can download and print. We're going to be working with the community to see what they're interested in."
He added: "We had to make that trade-off in terms of where we were spending our marketing dollars. By the time you get to the store, or see an ad, the BioShock fan knows about the game. The money we're spending on PR, the conversations with games journalists — that's for the fans. For the people who aren't informed, that's who the box art is for."
BioShock: Infinite is due out on ... (continued on next page)
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- 12:38pm EST - December 11th, 2012
This guy seems to think of everything! I can definitely understand why he chose it after reading his thought process, but I actually liked the cover before I read any of the online 'hate' for it. Its realism is a nice contrast to the stylised graphics found in-game. But really... downloadable covers for a game? Seems like Levine is covering all bases! The guy literally sweats passion for games...
- 1:24pm EST - December 11th, 2012
Why not make a really cool looking cover just for the collectors edition or the songbird edition and leave the mediocre art covers for the average joe? Because only the real fans would buy those editions and I think we deserve some decent cover art. Not this "lets attract the cod fan boys because those are the kind of covers that catch their attention and thats where the money is" which is true, sadly, but also think about the real fans who can truly appreciate the art that is bioshock. Sad day for gaming when devs have to risk anything just to make a few extra dollars. Thanks activision!!
- 4:03pm EST - December 11th, 2012
Having Elizabeth on the front would sell more people, sex sells - especially in gaming, it seems.
- 11:51pm EST - December 11th, 2012
Makes sense. Trying to get the more mainstream gamers (who are mostly FPS dudes) in on the game by the cover and then be pleasantly impressed by how much more it does as a game. Elizabeth, in spite of her sex appeal, would probably tone down the bro-action focus that the cover currently presents. And finally, I presume Ken is banking on secondary demographics like, say, girl gamers, to already be fans of the series or informed on the game, as this cover would not reach them (generally speaking).
- 5:05am EST - December 12th, 2012
@1 couldn't agree more.
@2 seriously speaking, how many times do u look at your game cover once u buy it. do u frame the game case on the wall or u just tuck it in between all the other game cases that u possess, on the shelf or in a drawer !?
cut the guy some slack, he's going head over heals to satisfy every1. And as Dantess said, The guy literally sweats passion for games...
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