How Game Packaging is Designed

GameSetWatch has an interview with Justin Carroll (who worked on Modern Warfare 2’s box) about what goes into designing box art. Interesting stuff for those of us who love the Collector’s Edition packaging and the extras they entail.

As elaborate packaging becomes more prevalent, does it still stand out?

JC: … More elaborate packaging communicates a deeper story about the game, and also connects to the passion the gamers and developers share about the game. To me it’s about authenticity. We created the collectors edition packaging for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. The Mythic/EA teams sweated over every tiny detail of that package with us, and that really shows in the final results. You can’t bullshit a core audience.

Also, the majority of packaging on the shelf is still in the 1st party templates, so the elaborate Collectors packs grab your attention. If you had a hundred Collectors Editions sitting on the same shelf it would be a different story.

Does that create an arms race, in effect, where packaging becomes more elaborate? Some things we’ve seen in limited editions are a bit ridiculous.

JC: I guess it does start an arms race but still, if it’s an authentic experience it adds value. There comes a point though where the economics will stop supporting it.

… with the killer AAA titles it will always make sense. Look at Infinity Ward’s “unboxing” video for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2: Prestige Edition on YouTube (we did the packaging). Over three million views to date. Obviously someone thinks that over-the-top package offers something valuable.

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Justin Carroll, who worked on Modern Warfare 2‘s box


  1. Maven:
    Nice article, be good to see more concept art for packaging or companies giving the fans a choice to vote which cover will be the final one. Kinda like the God of War 3 poll for what we most like to see in a collectors edition.

  2. twistedsymphony:
    yeah... it really depends on the company some have a lot of fan involvement, and others just guess and throw it out there.

    Bioshock (the first one) had a LOT of fan involvement for the CE. the cover art for the US version was even fan submitted... also they had a poll on what the included pack ins would be which is why we all got that awesome Big Daddy Figurine instead of an Artbook.

  3. Maven:
    Shame more companies don't follow the example. I've got loads of art books which get looked at once & shelved back in the box. Same goes with the soundtrack Cd's.

  4. twistedsymphony:
    The two things I really like to see in a CE are figurines (good sized ones) and nice packaging.... the reason being is 99.9% of the time the game is going to have it's case displayed on my shelf, and with a figurine I can take it out and display that too... and at least I can get something out of it.

    Soundtracks are good too, both the GTAIV and Getting Up soundtracks are on regular rotation on my Zune.... other games that I have soundtracks for I just never listen to, because well, it's just not good to listen to outside the game.

  5. Maven:
    I agree, a good figure or detailed replica of an in-game item are the best extras you can hope for. This is why I enjoy collecting press kits, you tend to get a lot of interesting merchandise which would have made a fantastic collectors edition, especially from the Sony produced games. I'll show you some pics when I find my damn camera!

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