Facebook Files: Videogame Boxes

By Ishaan . October 3, 2010 . 12:01pm


Following up on last week’s discussion about manuals, this week, we’re talking about videogame boxes and how they could potentially be improved both aesthetically and functionally. The talk of boxes originally started when we began to discuss the applications of QR codes.


Ishaan wrote:

You know what would be kind of neat? If, in the future, publishers put the effort into a decent online manual or general online information “hub” for a game and had one of those QR codes on the back of the box linking to it.


You could point a mobile phone or iPhone or maybe a PSP2 or 3DS at the thing and it could take you online to the hub, effectively giving you an easily accessible and detailed online manual at your fingers. Say you see a game at a store, but you have no idea what the hell it is. BAM! QR code on the back of the box links to a website (or bunch of sites or Wiki or hub or whatever) where you can find the info you need!


It would great for something like a Monster Hunter game where there’s just so much information to digest. It may not be feasible now, but as portable tech gets more advanced and people get more used to the idea of QR, it would be a fun little service to offer your users. :)


Andre wrote:

I sometimes wish that the game box had a better description on what a game is about or how it is played. Every so often I look at older games that wouldn’t put a dent in my wallet, read the back cover thinking it looked good and bought it. Sometimes the game is like what the box said it would be but other times its a stinker.


Anton wrote:

As far as box art goes, I find most boxes to be too cluttered. Thinking back on most of my old NES games, they had awesome art on the cover and then several screens on the back with some game description. To me, that’s great. But, as gaming evolved, now they have to list so much information on the packaging.


How players does the game support, what are the graphic and sound outputs, how much memory does a save file use, is online supported, what’s the rating on the game, etc. It’s too much!


What’s your outlook on game boxes? Are they fine the way they are or is do you feel there’s a way to improve them and maybe make them a little more practically functional or appealing?

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  • malek86

    The QR idea probably wouldn’t work, if anything because (at least in here) some stores don’t like it when you use the phone camera inside. Don’t really know why.

    • Code

      It’s probably because they don’t want you casing the place, what with an elaborate plan to create a virtual map of the store through cellphone camera photos.

  • [The Hunter] Doomrider

    In a perfect world, every game would come in a digipak, with its respective slipcase. They would be made out of resistent cardboard that wouldn’t tear with use. Also, every box art would contain artwork/concept art and CG imagery would be prohibited.

    Yes, in a perfect world.

  • It’d be nice if they didn’t fill half the space with french text and just print a different box instead. =/ Now we get 2 sentences of description + useless information most gamers know (how many players, compatibility, yatta) instead of a decent summary… but I guess that’s what the internet is for nowadays.

    • mach

      Yes! This is THE biggest problem with all of Nintendo’s first party Wii releases and NISA’s newer stuff. Not only does it look ugly, it guarantees that there’s almost no useful information on the back of the box. If the game doesn’t have in game French/Spanish language options, what’s the point of printing a cover that has all that?

      It makes me mad that everybody else has to sacrifice aesthetics just so the companies can make a few extra sales in Quebec.

      • Code

        Haha what got me about Quebec was back when No More Heroes came out, apparently the release in Canada got bunged up because they didn’t print french manuals — I mean seriously Ubisoft being in Montreal SHOULD have known better.

      • Joanna

        Hmmm, I was under the impression that legally they must print both languages in Canada on the box. All our food boxes (cereal, chocolate wrappers, ect.) and stuff have both languages. I think companies based in USA, which treat their products like exports into Canada, are fine with only one language (like Atlus). But for companies with Canadian branches like Nintendo have to use both official languages because they are based inside Canada. So my point is, dual language is usually required on the box.

        Also, I’m sure the “few extra sales” in Quebec are more than enough to warrant labelling in two languages. (Not to mention New Brunswick has a large French population and I’m pretty sure they also make it mandatory). I don’t see why people are getting bent out of shape over this. It’s fine if you have the game but not others, just because your box is a little overcrowded? Wow, you sure are a nice person.

        • mach

          I always thought the rule was that stuff had to be bilingual only in Quebec, not the entirety of Canada.

          Also, the issue is more that game companies think it’s cheaper to print an ugly box with multiple languages crammed on the back. If they want to sell in Quebec, it isn’t THAT expensive to just print separate bilingual art for sales in that territory. If the sales in Quebec are substantial enough, you’d think they’d have good enough reason to print separate art for it.

          Right now it seems like companies just force everyone to accept the uglier, multi-language boxes because it’s slightly better for the bottom line. I’d argue that it actually does more harm than good, since they’re bound to lose some customers thanks to the less informative game boxes.

          Of course, I also think it’s stupid that Quebec requires everything to have bilingual labeling, even when the product itself is only in English, but that’s a separate issue.

          • Code

            From what I know about it, they have to have French Booklets for all over Canada, not just Quebec. Some companies are smart and include both languages in one booklet. Other companies pack the game with two booklets like Capcom often does, they’ll have the French booklet under the shrink wrap outside the case. Also some companies put second cover which acts like a jacket that wraps around the case, which has both english/french on it. Also it’s not something particularly new, it all started in like 1998 on the Nintendo 64.

  • I personally think that there shud b Reversible Cover Art(Japanese n NA) as well as OST CDs attached! (I’m a sucked for those!) I mean I love them. Like Dual Hearts for the PS2. The music was tuff but there wasn’t an OST made? All games come wit either a cd or downloadable album.

  • karasuKumo

    The 360/PSP even DS box sizes are pointless, use the QR code idea or use an in-game tutorial/manual to get rid of the printed manual and make the box shorter to fit around the disc. That way you save space and the companies save recourses making it a greener world ^_^. DVD’s are the worst, they don’t even have manuals yet the box is pointlessly tall. I know eventually it will all be digital but for now that problem needs to be addressed. Sony have done a pretty good job of it with the Blu-Ray/PS3 disc boxes.

  • FireCouch

    Always use illustrations. Don’t use CGI models.

  • RupanIII

    Lazy box art annoys me. In general I think they get it better in Japan. Some examples – http://www.gamesradar.com/f/why-japanese-box-art-is-better/a-20080729123833874037 I think the fact that they keep the Kirby covers the same except for trying to make him into an angry tough guy is really telling.

    And it isn’t just gaming either. Look at the Cowboy Bebop Movie Region 1 DVD cover compared to foreign releases, for example.

    Oh, also, I like how Japanese CDs, DVDs etc have 2 layers of sealing, a plastic seal then a slightly bigger wrapping, keeps the case in better condition. The collector in me I suppose ;P

  • Ishaan’s idea is great, heck half the time I’d be glad of a URL to a site with some actual info on the game, Most official game sites are a mess of flash techniques and blurb and no actual info on the game or gameplay or anything.

  • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

    The thing that bother me about American game boxes are the cover box art (god they butcher the Japanese games). Pick up any game and 90% of the time its just a shot of the hero/ heroine’s “mug shot” (face+upper torso) taking up 1/2 or more of the cover, usually in a front-facing, very generic pose or doing nothing at all, front and center. As someone else mentioned here, Japanese and Asian box arts are usually more diverse and interesting to look at. Color and composition are usually much stronger elements and far better handled. Even when they use the main character as CG, he/ she is often in an interesting pose that is not necessarily front facing or smack in the center.Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of recent Japanese game covers have been following the western trend…Anyway, even if you don’t buy games from there, play-asia is a good place to compare box arts and see a lot of Japanese/ Asian game covers.

  • I just wish boxes were smaller. I don’t want to change to digital downloads in the future, but I do need room to store my collection – smaller boxes plox!

  • I’m sick of them plastering the entire main cast or just the hero on the box. Isn’t there anything else interesting to depict?

  • Tom_Phoenix

    Personally, I just miss the days when the boxes were thicker and seemed to actually contain anything substantial. Nowadays, everything seems to be so minimalistic. You basically just get a plastic case with a CD in it. Sometimes, you don’t even get a proper manual, only a short install guide.

    I also miss the days when regular copies had something special in them and not just Limited/Special editions.

    • People are more environmentally conscious now so they don’t like to waste resources on something most people don’t care about. That’s why most cases now are thinner, too; less plastic

      • Tom_Phoenix

        Who says most people don’t care about it? I have seen plenty of people complain on how disappointing manuals are today (if they are even included) and people LOVE collecting minor things such as miniatures and pieces of artwork.

        Plus, to be honest, I seriously doubt the publishers made cases thinner out of “environmental concerns”. It’s far more likely they just wanted to minimise costs.

        • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

          I have the Asian version of Little Big Planet, and the instruction manual is huge! 64 pages, all in color! I couldn’t believe it when I opened that sucker. Covers every aspect of the game and then some.

          …Unfortunately it’s also all in Chinese, and my Chinese sucks. But still! One of the niftiest instruction manuals I’ve seen in a while.

  • As has been stated, the Western boxart is, a majority of the time, changed for the worse from the original Japanese version. Actually, Europe sometimes gets boxart better than the American release, for some reason.But anyway, plastering a bunch of characters and faces and explosions on the front doesn’t tell me anything about the game. The Japanese boxart might not either, but at least it’s a CLASSY nothing that looks a bit respectable. There’re a bunch of Photoshopped “classy game covers” pics online which illustrate what I’d rather be seeing.Other than looks, as long as game companies continue to include what they should (manuals and a game cart/disc), then I’m good. Actually, one thing that has improved is what the game boxes are made out of. GBA boxes were easily destroyed, but DS boxes hold up really well in comparison, for example. Guess that’s something to be thankful for.

  • Hraesvelgr

    As far as cover art goes, we need more covers like the US covers of the original Suikoden and Yakuza 3.

  • exhume

    I agree with everything that’s been said about Japanese box art being superior, and would also add that hand-drawn illustrations look nicer than CG 90% of the time. (Compare and contrast the Western releases of Persona 3 and Lost Planet 2 to their Japanese counterparts, for example)
    Game cover designers should take more cues from book jacket designs, in my opinion: http://bookcoverarchive.com/

  • Code

    rar, I’m a person who appreciates a nice boxart, still have boxes from the SNES propped up in my room >w<; I definitely agree with pretty much what people are saying illustrations, CG always looks lazy and cheesy, and in general I think Japan usually gets the superior box art.

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