It’s love at first sight.
When you see them for the first time, they’re a radiant, shining source of beauty. Every day after that, they’re just as beautiful.
Video game covers are a critical piece of the game, both as merchandise and as art. If you aren’t sure what the game is, they should let you know what kind of game it is, its tone and at least hint at its gameplay.
It’s a tall order for a simple picture. Fortunately, a good portion of games manage to do it. A fair amount, however, fail to do so in a spectacular fashion. There are three categories of covers: the good, the bad and the other.
These are the covers that you never get tired of looking at, the ones that don’t go for cheap gimmicks or overly sexualized characters. They can stand on their own as pieces of art, but they also work beautifully with the game box itself. For example, look at Rise of the Tomb Raider.
It’s nothing like the old Tomb Raider games where exposed abs and cleavage are portrayed as the stars of the game. Instead, its got Lara the badass, with climbing picks and a giant bow, ready to explore a dark and mysterious cave. It tells you what you’ll do and what the atmosphere is in one image. Another example is the cover of Halo 3: ODST. It’s nearly entirely blue and rainy, which is 90 percent of the game’s environments. It has a lone soldier sneaking into the darkness. It might as well be a screenshot.
The aforementioned old Tomb Raider covers are a key example of this. The game is an exploration and combat-filled adventure, not some misogynistic adventure of a mannequin. Worse yet, these covers usually end up just being boring. Resident Evil 6 is just a number and an awful looking number at that.
Is the game the adventures of the number? After all of the atrocities committed to the Resident Evil series, its name is no longer enough to sell a game. Come on Capcom, at least try. The point is these are the covers that make you skip games that could be amazing. They make good games forgettable and bad games even worse.
Few and far between, the others offer something very special: choice. Two of the more recent examples are Bioshock Infinite and the upcoming DOOM, both of which offer an additional piece of cover art that players can swap with the default one. DOOM took it a step further and is letting fans vote on which of the two proposed covers they want.
As an added bonus, these covers are more art-oriented since they don’t have to draw in potential buyers. Plus, they’re free with the game. These are consumer-based choices at the cost of the developer, something that is getting more and more rare with today’s gaming corporations. It’s a small kindness that deserves recognition and the admiring gaze of the players.