Irrational head Ken Levine has responded with brutal honesty to fan complaints that the box art for Bioshock Infinite was too generic, arguing that it's for the uninformed.
“We had to make that trade-off in terms of where we were spending our marketing dollars," he told Wired.
"By the time you get to the store, or see an ad, the BioShock fan knows about the game. The money we're spending on PR, the conversations with games journalists - that's for the fans. For the people who aren't informed, that's who the box art is for.”
He explained that to people who don't follow the games industry through specialist media, choosing a game is a process like choosing any other household item, even one you pour over lettuce.
"I don't read Salad Dressing Weekly. I don't care who makes it, I don't know any of the personalities in the salad dressing business"
"Our gaming world, we sometimes forget, is so important to us, but… there are plenty of products that I buy that I don't spend a lot of time thinking about. My salad dressing. If there's a new salad dressing coming out, I would have no idea. I use salad dressing; I don't read Salad Dressing Weekly. I don't care who makes it, I don't know any of the personalities in the salad dressing business.”
The box art that has caused all the drama? It's hero Booker DeWitt, with a shotgun, stood in front of a burning flag.
"The sequel to one of the most thought provoking and imaginative games of this generation, and yet we STILL can't get away from grizzled-brown-haired-main-protagonist-holding-weapon-while-looking-somewhere-past-the-viewer box art," grumbled Redditor SKIKS.
Levine recognised that fans might be disappointed, but explained that the move came about after Irrational did some product testing at places like frathouses, and found that few people had heard of Bioshock, despite the series' fame in the gamer world.
“I understand that our fan says, that's great Ken, what's in it for me? One, we need to be successful to make these types of games, and I think it's important, and I think the cover is a small price for the hardcore gamer to pay."
He added that Irrational did have plans to help soothe the angry hardcore beast with alternate downloadable covers.
Bioshock Infinite is due for release February 26.