My Favorite Video Game Box Art

Being both a gamer and designer, im always interested in what the latest games are putting out as their box art. Good box art has to deliver the message of what the game is about, the title, and unfortunately, a ton of horrible logos and marks which are required (ESRB ratings, publishers, developers, game system name/logo, silly tag lines, etc).

As a designer, you have to look past the ugly stuff and work with it the best you can. So in my list of favorites, ill pretend its not there. Whats attracted me to these particular boxes is typography, composition, originality, color, style, execution (did someone use an outer glow to separate elements? Not on my list!) and the general message. Is there a story to be told on the cover, and does it tell me what the game is about?

The Elder Scrolls IV: im including both Oblivion and Knights of the Nine, because they use the same concept. Ive never played these games but the box art is very attractive, and had some thought put into the design. you can think of the box as a stone tablet with the title etched into it. nice textures and appropriate typefaces allow this box to really stand out among the busy photoshop art heavy games surrounding it. it always nice to see the package used in such ways.

Gran Turismo 4:GT is all about cleanliness and elegance, two concepts that are communicated clearly on the box. Theres nothing too energetic about it as you might expect (see Need For Speed), smooth lines and white space, but it reminds me of a professional racing teams garage. The floors are clean, the tools are neatly organized, and the whole environment speaks of high performance. A good driver is smooth with the wheel and calm under pressure. I think the box reflects that too. Also one of the better logos for a game I can think of.

Left 4 Dead 2the original concept for this was a bit more gruesome. Only 2 fingers were attached to the hand, rather than just a missing thumb. Apparently 3 missing fingers would be bad for the gaming business? Send the wrong message? Too violent? Especially in a game where you hack zombie people up with chainsaws and axes? Whateves. From a production standpoint its not very impressive, but it sends a great message still and plays off the art from the original game. nice complimentary color palette too.

whats refreshing about this cover is the use of “white space” giving us an open savanna like environment, which is always pleasing. Especially in this market of busy compositions and closely cropped figures. If not for the awful logos and tagline all over it, this would be higher on my list, but that’s expected like I said earlier.

Mortal Kombat: Deadly AllianceMK covers dont usually feature a game character and the franchises logo has so much equity and is so recognizable, theres no reason to feature a character. They change the typography on almost every game, and it always fits the theme. This was the 5th game in the franchise and making the Roman Numeral 5 into a weapon was a nice idea. If you took away all the bevels and texture and made the whole thing flat, black/white it would still have a strong composition. Also, the newest MK game’s graphics, typography, and interface design is top notch!

Grand Theft Auto 4Rockstar always has some great marketing and box art, which seems to be done by the same artist. Its hard to separate them all because of that, and because they’re all so well done. I love the style that is a cross between comic book and video game.

Madden 10there’s logos all over this thing and not much hierarchy at all, but this take on the cover was so refreshing. It’s the only year they used 2 athletes on the cover and really emphasizes that duality of football. the color palette couldn’t be better, taking the teams from the years Super Bowl, the red and yellow (or, cardinal red & athletic gold) really make for an intense and youthful design. I love grunge, so this is a natural attraction for me, but all the texture/brush work is really well done.

Gears of War 2 LEthe composition with the iconic Lancer is as good as any logo. Its totally unique to the Gears franchise and is one of my favorite video game weapons. You can never go wrong with a black, white, and red color palette; the blood red back drop with the grungy, beat up Lancer makes for a powerful visual that really jumps off the shelf. The franchise also has a great word mark. Theres not a lot of clear communication here outside of the title, the art overall sends a mysterious message but being that its to a very specific audience who is buying the Limited Edition version, its totally appropriate.

Resistance: Fall of Mannot only are we given an indication of the setting and time period about the game, but theres a great story being told on the cover. The title of course communicates a lot about the story as well. It makes an instant impact and one that’s long lasting.

Red Dead Redemptionanother Rockstar game, and this one happens to be my favorite of all time so maybe im a bit biased, but theres no denying the unique style and originality of this spaghetti western epic. I definitely prefer the European version (left) as the protagonist John Marston looks more like himself in the game and its obviously an American western. The US version (right) seems to me, like a cover for a Civil War game. they both, either by composition or character style, draw inspiration from The Proposition cover