Sometimes, sports video games need to change their covers just before they’re released. It’s happened with FIFA and PES, it’s happened with Madden, it’s happened to NBA 2K. It’s now also happening with Cricket 22, but for slightly more scandalous reasons.
When Kyrie Irving, Neymar, LeBron, Ronaldo and Brett Favre all had to get their respective covers swapped, it was because they had changed teams between the cover first being shown off, and the game actually being released. Which is a headache for those manufacturing and marketing the games, but not usually the biggest deal.
With Cricket 22, though, developers Big Ant had selected as one of two cover stars Tim Paine, the Australian captain, thinking this would be a popular and safe choice. Which it was, right up until the moment last week where it emerged he had sent “lewd messages” and an unsolicited dick pic to a female former colleague.
This took place in 2018. At the time he was cleared after private investigations by local cricket authorities determined the exchange was “consensual.” But the investigation only took place at all because the woman receiving the messages had lodged an official complaint, leading to local debate over just how consensual they were.
The scandal became public late last week, and as a result Paine has stepped down from his role as captain, which in cricket is a much more important and powerful figure than in most other sports. He will, however, continue to play for Australia in the upcoming Ashes series against England.
OK, phew, now that I’ve explained all of that for the international audience who probably had no idea what was going on, it has been decided that Paine will also be removed as the cover star of the Cricket game, with developers Big Ant releasing this statement:
Hello cricket fans!
We know you’re excited to get your hands on Cricket 22 - The Official Game Of The Ashes.
We’re every bit as keen to get the game to you, as the team has been working incredibly hard to make what we believe is our greatest title yet.
Unfortunately, factors beyond our control have meant that we need to update the game’s cover art, other visuals and team lists. There was a critical day 1 patch that players will need to enjoy the full Cricket 22 experience that has consequently needed to be revoked. The new patch won’t be ready for release until December 2.
As a result, we have made the difficult decision to delay the game’s release by a week for all platforms both physical and digital. This is the first time Big Ant Studios have ever had to delay a game release, but we find ourselves in an unprecedented position. Everyone at Big Ant Studios would like to thank our fans and supporters for understanding our need to do this, ensuring the game is as full and authentic a cricket experience as is possible.
We will update you with further details soon. In the meantime, circle December 2 on the calendar!
We can’t wait to see you out there on the field.
Ross Symons, CEO, and the Big Ant team
Paine has already been replaced on the cover by fast bowler Pat Cummins, a replacement done so quickly that digital copies of the game will now be meeting their December 2 release date, with only physical copies being delayed.