Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cover Art, Marketing Style

Cover art is a key feature in marketing books, games sold in stores, and even some games sold as digital downloads (although often much altered in this form, being reduced to an icon for instance). Getting "good" cover art can be a major expense and difficulty for a small publisher. Particularly when the definition of "good" can be so different for so many people.

Over the years, I've gone through a few definitions of "good" as it pertains to cover art for products. At first I thought "good" cover art was art I liked. Simple enough, but really not relevant. After all, the point of putting a product on the market (usually) is to make money, and whether or not I like the artwork has little if anything to do with how many copies of a game I can sell. A more useful definition of "good" would be functional: "Good" artwork reflects the nature of the product, helps make the title easily readable, makes the genre obvious, and so on. Better, but still not quite there. The definition I now use is this: "Good" cover art sells the most product; ideally, with the highest profit. So the ideal cover art would cost nothing to create or use, while selling the most copies. Really bad cover art would be a very expensive piece of art that actually repels customers and reduces sales to a minimum.

Looking at cover art functionally in this manner gives you a whole different approach to getting a cover put together. Poor coloring can ruin a good drawing, especially if the coloring makes it hard to read the product's title. High-quality art from a top illustrator that costs thousands of dollars is probably not optimal, especially if your marketing budget is hardly more than that (or even less). Look for a second-use right to an existing piece of art from a top illustrator; such pieces can often be had for a few hundred dollars, and you know exactly what you're going to get in advance, and you don't have to wait.  Or ask a graphic artist for a dramatic treatment of some element important in the game (such as a gun); look to book covers for some interesting ideas with very little actual art, but dramatic and effective use of colors and graphic elements (and the title usually the most prominent of those, or perhaps the author's name).

Just don't make the mistake of thinking a nice piece of art is necessarily a "good" cover; your object is to sell games, not be a patron of the arts.

No comments:

Post a Comment