I was at the local Fry’s Electronics last night perusing the PC games aisle when The Settlers 7 caught my eye. I had written about the game’s cover art while back, describing the differences in regional cover art. So the first thing I noticed about the box was that the art looked better.
I criticized the original US cover for trying to be too ‘badass’ and creating false expectations about the game’s content to people unfamiliar with the series. I’m sure a lot of other gamers felt the same way because Ubisoft made subtle changes to the cover art.
The original cover looked gritty and desaturated, like the opening battle of Fellowship of the Ring or Gladiator. The cover was split down the middle, showcasing the kingdom management on the left and the military strategy on the right. But because the original cover looked gray all around, it compromised the artist’s message. Both sides looked angry and ready for war. The man on the left had short, military-style haircut. The man on the right was decked in armor. If I didn’t know anything about The Settlers, I might think the game was about a rebel army fighting against an evil empire.
The new cover does a much better job make the two halves distinct. The most obvious way they emphasized the contrast was by adding color. On the left, the town looks cheerful under blue skies. On the right, the military stands ready, flanked by a fiery red backdrop. Secondly, the man on the left was altered with long, unkempt peasant hair. Although he’s still exhibiting an intense scowl, he no longer looks like the leader of a rebellion, ready to pick up a sword and bash some imperial skulls.
The more I look at this new cover, the more I like it. While the design is still somewhat misleading about the game’s actual art style, it has a clearer message about the player’s role in the game as both kingdom overseer and military commander. Plus, the purpose of the cover is to get people to pick up the box. What actually sells the game is the back cover, which remains largely the same regardless of region.