Sony: ICO would have sold if its box art didn’t suck

Everyone knows the story by now: ICO‘s European and Japanese box art is brilliant, while ICO‘s North American box art is f*cking disgusting. Sony Japan Studio VP Yasuhide Kobayashi is all too aware of this, and has voiced his belief that if ICO had been packaged as intended in America, it would have actually shifted some copies.

“If the packaging was designed differently, we think it would have sold more,” he explains. “In fact on the Internet many people have said that the Japanese version was better.”

Kobayashi made this claim at the DICE summit, where he was talking about appealing to Western consumers. He also criticized what the US and Europe consider to be a “new” game, claiming that Western developers make fresh IP that’s “something similar to something that’s come before, because they think it is easier for people to understand.”

He added: “But actually we don’t like this — it’s like you’re simulating, following suit, combining two titles into one. It seems the definition of a new title is different in the US and Europe to Japan. It means a new genre, that’s what we call a new game.”

Interesting theories. What do you think? Would ICO have sold better if the packaging was better? What of the idea of a “new” game in the West? Are developers wrong to assume that Western gamers need familiarity in their IP, or are there enough examples of successful new genres to prove him wrong?

Jim Sterling