Bioshock Infinite's level designer Shawn Elliott has reflected on the backlash that Irrational Games suffered as a result of their rather uninspired box-art for Bioshock Infinite, suggesting that trying to condense the game's extraordinary breadth and vast array of themes into a single marketable image presents "a very difficult challenge".
“I’m not going to duck that, but it’s overseeing marketing and stuff – I just make the stuff, I don’t sell it, you know?" he told OXM. "So, I really am not involved in any of that, but I can imagine that it’s a very difficult challenge to take and create a single image that says everything that needs to be said in the game.
“I mean, God – imagine, you know, writing a book and trying to make the same kind of statement with a book cover, a movie poster or anything. Stanley Kubrick is one of my favourite directors and his movie posters are always phenomenal, but they don’t ever really tell me anything at all about the contents of the movie, so I imagine it’s a challenge.
“We have several principal characters: Elizabeth, Songbird, the city itself is the biggest character – that’s Bioshock, you know, the city as the character, that’s the essential DNA that threads all Bioshock games together going forward. So, how do you sell that? Then there’s the skyhook and skylines, which are also essential, there’s Liz opening tears, and you can imagine quickly that gets confusing.
“Box art in the 80s, for early games they tried literally to put everything on there – so you’d have game box art where there’s a dinosaur on one side, there’s a spaceship on the other, and you really don’t understand what the hell is happening.”
Asked if the fuss had frustrated the team somewhat, Elliot responded in the negative, suggesting that the enthusiasts already interested in the game know what it's about.
"No. I wasn’t frustrated at all,” he said, “because the interesting thing is that the game so far has largely been discussed by enthusiasts – those people got to see our very first stab at the game at reveal, they got to see the E3 trailer, they got to see pretty much everything – any time we put media out about the game, every screenshot or whatever they have been aware of it.
“So I don’t really have to worry that they’re getting the wrong impression, because they’ve picked up on every impression that we’ve made.”