Look at that Bioshock Infinite cover art! Eyes down, gun up! Explosions! Shrapnel! Pookie, let’s tear this mother-lover down! While Bioshock Infinite may be delayed by a month right now, the game is still hotter than my fresh toast right now. Sure, it may have some generic cover art slapped on top of it, but according to Irrational Game’s Ken Levine, there’s a pretty good reason for that.
According to Levine, that cover wasn’t meant to be attractive to those gamers who care for the final product, and have been gobbling up bits of information released about the development of it, through the last two years or so. It’s for the guys and gals out there who just don’t know any better, Levine said to Wired.
“There are plenty of products that I buy that I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about,” Levine said.
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.
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.
And to be successful, and to continue to make these kinds of games which frankly, of the people who make these types of games, there’s not a lot of them, and they haven’t exactly been the most successful with these types of games that have come out in the last few years. I was thrilled because I love them, and I hope that we had some small role in getting those games greenlit… But they have to be financially successful to keep getting made.
And Levine has a damn good, and honest point here that he’s making, something which he deserves some applaud for. There’s no doubt that the game is going to sell well, but if it can sell even better by attracting other audiences, then that’s even better, as Levine explained;
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.
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.
Bioshock Infinite is still the same game at the end of the day, one with a vibrant palette, great looking characters, themes and undertones. And appealing to ‘frat boys’, how can that possibly harm the end product, when the core of it is staying true to the original vision?
Besides, this is still a game where the primary focus is to shoot stuff up, no matter how excited you may be to get to dip your toes into some new philosophies.