Quantic Dream "categorically refused" an idea that upcoming supernatural adventure Beyond: Two Souls should feature star Ellen Page holding a gun as its cover art.
Speaking to GameSpot, Quantic Dream co-founder and executive producer Guillaume de Fondaumière admitted that the studio needed to be careful in how it chooses to present its game to a wide audience.
"We have to be very careful," said Fondaumière. "We're working closely with the marketing folks at Sony to portray the game in the right light, to be able to talk to that diverse audience that we hope we will be able to reach with Beyond."
Like the studio's previous title Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls is a narrative-led adventure that attempts to explore complex themes. But Beyond, which features elements of the supernatural and science fiction, features more action-heavy scenes than Heavy Rain.
"Indeed, there is some action in Beyond," continued Fondaumière. "But if we, for instance, put a pack art that's solely featuring action, first of all it's not going to be truthful to what the game is and then, your wife for instance, is not going to feel attracted to this. She'll say 'ok, well that's not unique, it's one of your video games.'"
"So yes, we need to be careful and to make sure that whenever we communicate on this game, whenever we market it, that we manage to get across this variety in themes and this uniqueness that the project beholds."
So did anyone involved in the game try to pitch that Beyond's front cover be a figure of Ellen Page's character holding a gun? "Yes, and we categorically refused it," said Fondaumière. "It's kind of natural for agencies, you know, who are far away from the project, to pitch you different things. 'It's a video game? Okay, it needs to have a gun otherwise it's not even a game.' But our job, with David [Cage], is to make sure that everyone understands what is specific about this game and to make sure that we have the right pack shot, and the right imagery supporting the project, and the right image is being communicated to the public."
As with Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream's desire for Beyond: Two Souls is to reach a mature audience that might not be particularly interested in traditional AAA games. "Most people I know that are above 35 years old, do not play [games]," said Fondaumière. "Women around me don't play, or seldom play, or play very specific games. I think it's an important moment in the industry as a whole; it's the moment where we need to define precisely who we want to appeal to."
"We always thought at Quantic that was a potential for reaching out to a larger audience, and not only target the core gamers, or only a male audience. That we can be a little bit more open. And with Beyond we are hoping that it will appeal, for instance, to women. Because of the themes that we have that are similar to what women like in certain TV series, or watching certain movies, for instance, or reading certain books."
Recently, BioShock Infinite creative director Ken Levine likened the decision to feature protagonist Booker DeWitt holding a gun on BioShock Infinite's box art as salad dressing.
"Our gaming world, we sometimes forget, is so important to us," said Levine at the time, "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," he continued. "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. For some people, [games are] like salad dressing. Or movies, or TV shows. It was definitely a reality check for us."
Beyond: Two Souls will be released for PlayStation 3 on October 8.