Hey, I just got a note from my publisher with a first cut on the box art for the "eagerly anticipated game." They've got a good artist, and he's done a great job capturing the flavor of the game. The company has also created a new trademark, apparently for their family game line, to distinguish those titles from their traditional wargaming base. So it's all very exciting to see come together.
It's a little intimidating to think about how important box art is to the sales of a game, but I guess that's a fact of the marketplace. For my part, I'd like to think the outside of a game box doesn't drive my purchase decision. To me, the most important factor in deciding whether to buy a game is whether I've played it before. Second is whether someone has recommended it. Third is seeing it demonstrated, as at a convention, for example. Fourth is whether I recognize the designer or publisher and trust that I can buy something "untried" just because of their reputation. Seldom will I buy a game based entirely on the box, but I have done it before, and with some success (as Can't Stop) as well as with some disappointment (as Clue: Secrets and Spies). Conversely, I've seen some games I would never put money down for, just because the outside was so poorly done.
I'm curious to know how many people there are who will buy a game just based on what's on the outside of the box, and what they look for. I also wonder how big a company has to be to spend time, money, and effort on real research to analyze customer reactions to box art and appearances.
A funny thing just occurred to me: All else being equal, I think I'd be willing to pay more for a game if it felt heavy when I picked it up. That sounds dumb, but it's important to recognize one's own human foibles, and that's one of mine. I specifically recall a conversation at HistoriCon with the president of one wargame company in particular. They have some excellent naval wargames, but as we discussed the latest release and why it was priced the way it was, I casually reached down and flicked the corner of the mapsheet with my thumb. The map was essentially a glossy poster paper mapsheet, not hard-mounted. Mind you, the graphics were terrific, and the reputation for the series of games is excellent, but to me, if I'm going to pay a lot, it has to weigh a lot. That's dumb, but it's true.
Something to think about if I ever get into the production end of the business.