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  • Xiangyu (Shawn) Sun

Thoughts About Video Game Covers

Updated: Feb 24, 2019

In this post, I'm gonna share some game covers I like most and give a brief explanation under each cover.


But before that. Let's think about what the game cover's function to the game is. From my personal point of view, the most direct function is attracting players to buy it at once. Like the appearance of a person, you can get lots of information about this person from his or her appearance before you start the formal conversation.


So how the game cover make players buy this game? There are lots of different method to achive this goal.



1. Provide Critical Informations


By providing critical informations, the game can hit its demographies' demand point accurately. "That's exactly what I want!"


Fighting with gun and your titan partner

From this cover picture, we can learn that Titanfall2 is a shooting game about giant robot. Maybe this robot is the "Titian" of the title? The character seems have the ability of sliding on the wall. Besides, this "titan" should be the ally of the character because they are aiming the same direction! As a result, we can expect that maybe character can operate inside this giant robot!



All of these pictures convey the core feature of GTAV game: high freedom.

That's a cover picture that contains pretty much information about Grand Theft Auto V. Gun fight, different type of transportaions, dog partner, and... romantic relationship with girls? Besides, maybe the smart phone can be used in the game? In a nutshell, all of these pictures convey the core feature of GTAV game: high freedom.



A high-tech modern hecker! With a gun!

The smartphone is at one intersection point based on the rule of thirds. As a result, I'm sure that the smartphone will play an important role in this game (not like GTAV). It seems that the main character in the cover image can use smartphone to heck the traffic light, cameras and signal towers(?). Combined with the title, maybe the character can also get access to some information of top secret like civilian's privacy info.



A steam-punk assassin with magic and melee skills

Besides the magic and melee skills that we can get directly from this cover, we can also take a close observe on the strange mask. The eyes of the mask maybe have a function like binoculars. This character seems like a skillful assassin with some special power.



Dark-Gothic hunter with brutal weapon set

Take a close look at this character's right-hand weapon. We can find that there is a joint at the middle part. So this strange melee blade maybe can transform between different modes. Combined with a gun in left hand, this character must be an experienced fighter who can handle combat in a flexible range. And from the background and the blood on the ground, we can tell that this figher is fighting with something really dangerous and horrible.



Father and son starting an adverture? Tatally different from the previous series

Instead of chain blades, Kratos will fight his foes with an axe and an archer boy. Will the boat be the main method of transportation in this God of War game? Whatever, the battle in this game will be definately changed a lot because of the new main weapon. Besides, there are several nordic mythology element in the title text, the boat's style and these two character's clothes.


2. Make Players Curious


Sometimes the cover image will leave players some unsolved questions. Questions will trigger the curiousity, and the curiousity will lead to the further exploration (purchase). You wanna know the answer? Buy it now!


Laura's new look is so good! ... Wait, is she injured?!

This cover image impressed me a lot because not like the heroine standing posture in previous Tomb Raider games, this Laura is more ... close to a human. She is injured but still fathful. The equipment is not very advanced and the environment is terrible. Why she is here? What caused this significant change on her?



It looks more like a book's cover. About dragon?

As an open world game, the information that Skyrim's cover conveys is very limited. However, it will further stimulate the player's desire to explore this bizzare world.



What does that origami mean? Where dose the blood of its edge come from?

The origami of this cover is more like a puzzle. The blood spot also catches eyes a lot. Where it from? Why it was on that origami?



“ The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. ”

A broken arm, cutted. Simple, brutal and straight information: death. Who did this? Whose arm? What does the enemy looks like? We don't know.



So dramatic.

Despite the image structure, what happened to them? Why the boy seems dying? Why the front two character are blindfolded? Why the character on the back looks so different? The answer is exactly the in-game story itself.



The light and shadow, with the character's expression, are telling a story.

What's the relationship between these two characters? A complex story can be read from the young girl's eyes. Why is she having an expression that does not match her age? What kind of experience caused this?


3. "Also ... Make It Cool"


Also, sometimes players buy this game just because the cover images looks very awesome. That's quite hard to explain... But it's true.


Doom is cool

Eventhough there are only one character and one big title in the cover image. But we still can hear what he gonna say if he can speak: "I'M GONNA KILL YOU ALL!"



This alien's avatar is made up of human skulls.

That's a brilliant design and I love it very much. This idea is more than crazy. Is this image related to the gameplay? No actually. But that design is pretty unique and awesome so I bought it. The magic spell of visual art.



Feel the pure evil.

A masterpiece of Wei Wang. You can feel the evil just by the contrast color and the volcanic-like texture. Besides, the inverted triangle shape in this picture helped a lot.



You can feel the weight of this power armor even across a picture.

Another close shot. Only about the head part of the power armor. From this photography angle, You can tell that it's big and heavy. Quite suitble for wearing it and traveling in a radiation-polluted world.



She is burning in the war.

That's a beautiful use of light and color. Half is hot like fire, half is cold as ice. What are the shining things in the middle of the picture? it may be flying bullet, or buring shard of grenade. They are the war. She is in the war. You are in the war.



Compressive feeling brought by close shoot.

Look at this. An extremly-close shoot. What you can feel from that? The high contrast between blood red and bone ash white, plus the high light reflected by the pupil. What can you feel from that? The endless wrath.



4. Conclusion


Awesome art design, critical information, and unsolved questions can guide the player know and feel more about your game. In a way, this can determine how successful our game will be.


As game designers, besides the inner-gameplay designing work, maybe we can also pay attention to the appearance's designing work. Sometimes, one picture is worth than thousands worlds.


Conversely, sometimes we can convey our idea more directly in some visual ways. After all, the common vision in a team is always of great importance during the process of gamge development.


Hope it can help!

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