Ken Levine has commented on the negative response to BioShock Infinite’s cover art, stating it’s more a call to the unconverted than something meant for BioShock fans.
Irrational revealed BioShock Infinite’s official cover art at the start of the month. It immediately caused a minor uproar, with fans stating that a generic angry-dude-posing-with-gun is in no way representative of the deep gameplay experience that the BioShock games offer.
Ken Levine agrees, but this cover isn’t meant to appeal to those who are already a fan of the series. “We had to make that tradeoff 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,” Levine tells Wired.
The decision comes from a probe that revealed a shocking lack of BioShock awareness amongst certain social groups. “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.”
“I looked at the cover art for BioShock, which I was heavily involved with and love, I adored. And I tried to step back and say, if I’m just some guy, some frat guy, I love games but don’t pay attention to them, if I saw the cover of that box, what would I think? And I would think, this is a game about a robot and a little girl. That’s what I would think. I was trying to be honest with myself.”
So the grumpy Booker is meant to sway the larger masses into making BioShock Infinite a financial success, so more games of its kind can be made. “I wanted the uninformed, the person who doesn’t read IGN, 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.”
And if you do want a cover that somehow conveys the philosophical quandaries and societal allegories that the game will no doubt present? “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,” Levine states.
This is pretty much a non-issue for me. The cover art may be compromised or whatever, but as long as the game isn’t affected in a similar fashion, more power to it.