The Art of Box-art by Victiny
Spanning the various eras, video game boxes can be compared to the most similar media platform of the disc era, DVDs. Aside from Nintendo’s non-standard and varied disc and accompanying packaging design, the cases from Sony, Microsoft and similar companies have remained consistent. DVD discs are usually a comparable size, and feature a standard notch in the center to remove the game, as is the case (heh) with Microsoft games, though the variance is often aesthetic rather than a dramatically altered style of storing the game’s disc (for example. Microsoft’s Xbox has had green remain their trademark color, while Sony is always blue and black to an extent).
Like look at this nonsense, It’s like Nintendo said “parkour!” (credit: @Pixelpar)
The box is almost always a rectangular, upward design showcasing what a video game has to offer. Indeed, the box is almost like the first sample of a game’s offering, somewhat communicating what sort of experience is entailed by often featuring the art-style, mood, and general ambience of a game. The colors of a given studio or companies brand also hope to compliment these art pieces without becoming too demanding or contrasting too much. That is where I believe the controversies over the recently revealed Spider-Man: Miles Morales for PS5 arise.
(Pictured) A PS5 being wrestled from a poor Wal-Mart employee (and an excellent example of mood setting on a box art).
Firstly, a quick retrospective on Sony’s various packaging throughout the years. In the original PlayStation era, games were encapsulated in a clear jewel case, with black plastic securing multiple discs in place if need be. It was most akin to a CD case, snuggly fitting the game itself into a compact, travel ready design. This layout was taken full advantage of with games like Final Fantasy VII, with its multiple disks creating an inviting environment that really made the game you were buying in ludicrous 1990’s prices more justifiable. Next, came the natural evolution of PS2 games. As if it was the puberty period for PlayStation consoles, the boxes shot up vertically like cedar trees, molding into more of the recognizable design we see today. You know how art theory dictates a simplistic design creates an affable and familiar silhouette? Well, here that design created the most recognizable and approachable design of them all; square.
More discs meant more game, and more game meant better game!
PS2 cases, though generally a solid package, wereas less so in comparison to other eras. For example, PS2 games and cases lacked that transparent element PS1 and later systems would have. They often were single disc, which while that speaks to the advancement of data storage, felt like you knew exactly what to expect when popping open that bad boy. Whereas PS1 games were dolled up CD cases, PS2 was the DVD period. While this isn’t a bad thing, I think to a degree they blended with many DVDs in a side by side comparison if they were to be seen today. After which came PS3 games, and here there were two versions of these cases, with one predating the other (the box design is largely the same on these two, the difference lies in the label). These saw the return of the clear design that always felt less like a “general media device” and more like a “game” to me. They were slightly stouter than PS2 games, somewhat 75% of the way between the first and second consoles. Their cover variations altered somewhere around 2007, as shown below the left cover had more of a vertical design compared to it’s horizontal replacement. I prefer the horizontal design, as It less clutters the games art, and generally much of the community would agree.
The era we are just preparing to leave would be the advent of PS4 games. These adopted the blue color scheme synonymous with Playstation, while also combining elements of its predecessors. The clear plastic of PS1 and 3 games, the height of PS2, it truly feels like a natural amalgamated heir to the Playstation throne. It’s this combination that I and many others find comfort in and were eager to see what progression PS5 games would embrace next. When the new Spider-Man was unveiled and thus showcased our first look at what a PS5 game would look like, it was met with…talk. A bit more controversial than average discussion, less than a full-on argument. It was incredibly similar to PS4 games, they’d say. More of the same! But is this a bad thing? Do we not find comfort in these games already? It is a bit of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario for Sony.
The PS5 game case does make attempts to differentiate itself, but It’s no secret there isn’t a large “eyecatcher” that truly sets it apart. I think part of the controversy also lies in the debut game for this concept. The previous Spider-Man game had a somewhat basic art to begin with, and the harsh red in Miles Morales’s text really contrasts negatively with the already established white, blue, and black arrangement. It does not compliment it well, while a more neutral toned game would suit the art significantly better.
Credit to Gamesradar.com
In defense of this though, I believe the art’s use of dynamic lighting on the fist and chest really creates its own identity aside from 2017’s Spidey incarnation. The blue and white, while off-putting at first, have the same appeal as PS3 cases did to me; that this truly is a “video game”. It differentiates itself from similar physical media, while also retaining that PS brand we’ve grown accustomed to. I think if it was too radical in a new case design, it would have been met with a similar if not worse reaction. Sony truly was damned if you do, but for a debut game case randomly dropped following a reveal trailer, I’d say they escaped that web pretty well.
1 thought on “The PS5 Boxes Aren’t That Bad, Guys!”
[…] If you would like to read another control article, please check out Victiny’s piece on the PS5 game cases […]