Shenmue III's Placeholder Box Art Is Hilarious

Illustration for article titled iShenmue III/is Placeholder Box Art Is Hilarious

I don’t particularly care about the Shenmue III Kickstarter because I don’t fund other people’s creative endeavors and I can’t bring myself to have feelings about anything happening in 2017 right now. But if I did donate to kickstarters or had meaningful early-stage interest in a Shenmue threequel, the placeholder box are for the newly announced backer-only PS4 physical copy might cure me of the desire to donate to this specific project.


Skeptical fans already had a few pretty solid reasons to hold on to their money, like Sony’s ambiguously defined involvement in production. Today in a campaign update they announced that all contributors at $60 or higher can now opt in for a physical PS4 copy of the game, something a lot of folks had requested as an option.

But for placeholder art they’re using the same key art you’ll find all over the campaign page (more than 20 times), and when they place that image and the hokey title font onto a mockup of a PS4 game box it just looks so much worse. When I saw that mockup this morning I tweeted this:


With that promo image Shenmue III goes from being an abstract concept at this stage to a tangible product I can imagine holding. That the box won’t actually look like that is immaterial. For now, this ridiculous picture of a bargain bin-looking game is Shenmue III to me.

Amplifying the pain is that the campaign already had a PC physical copy reward tier, and it just had this image to promote that:

Illustration for article titled iShenmue III/is Placeholder Box Art Is Hilarious

That’s totally okay! Cool, classy, not something that your friends would make fun of you for if they saw you’d donated to a Kickstarter in order to get it. The awful PS4 placeholder art, on the other hand, projects a pretty off-putting image into our heads, one that indicates that maybe they’re not putting the love and care and effort into the project that we’d hoped. I’m not saying that’s how it actually is—I could not possibly know that—I’m saying that’s the sort of thought that comes to mind when I look at that picture. There’s a very good reason, after all, that placeholder box art is usually just the game’s title on a black background. Public perception is important.

Especially, you know, when you’re trying to get people to buy a game at least two-and-a-half years before they can play it.


You can tell the author off this post to go to hell on Twitter at @philrowen

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Jason Schreier

This feels unnecessarily harsh, Phil. It’s placeholder box art! I’m as skeptical of kickstarters as anyone — probably more — but it feels a little off-the-mark to rail against a game so many people are excited about because the placeholder art looks like... placeholder art.