Bioshock Infinite’s box art “doesn’t say shit about the game”, says Levine

Ken Levine has dismissed criticism of Bioshock Infinite’s cover art, saying that it doesn’t reflect the quality of the game. He’d rather compromise on a packshot than any part of the game itself, he said.

Speaking at a BAFTA event last night, Levine also suggested that Irrational Games’ 2004 shooter Tribes: Vengeance wasn’t really the game he wanted to make, but the studio took on the project to pay the bills and fund larger projects like Bioshock.

Referring to this Kotaku piece on Bioshock Infinite’s box art, Levine said: “It was frustrating to have that reaction to the cover because I remember there was an article of Kotaku which said like ‘What this says about the game’ – the truth is, it doesn’t say shit about the game.”

“You know, it says a lot about how, as it turns out, you put a box with a burning flag and a guy with a gun on it in front of 3,000 people, they like it.”

“I’m a hardcore gamer, if you put it in front of the readership of a hardcore gamer site they’re going to hate it. Is it my favourite cover? No, I think you’ve seen some key art around – we have this great piece of art called The Falling which is on a building in Los Angeles which I was involved with. I love that piece of art. The box art is like this big, it’s much smaller than a movie poster. We had to make the choice. We tried to make good with the gamers in terms of the alternative boxart and stuff.”

Elaborating on the wider theme of balancing the commercial and creative sides of making games, Levine added: “It’s one of the things I’m most proud of Irrational that we make payroll every month. We did that by having to make some games that I made compromises on when I had to. Was Tribes: Vengeance the game I really wanted to make? No, but it made payroll and it got us to a place where we could make Bioshock.”

“Fortunately now we don’t have to make any compromises on the game we make. But if I have to compromise on a cover, I’ll compromise on that cover.”

Levine was speaking at a BAFTA even in London last night, in which he revealed why he cancelled the Bioshock movie and looked back on his career in games to date.