The History of PC Game ... Packaging?

Interesting read over on 1up — the history of packaging trends in PC gaming. No, really. Remember the code wheels (I had one in Legacy of the Ancients and the Legend of Blacksilver, for C64). Remember Marathon's absurd box? Remember the boatload of instruction manuals for something like Pirates!

It's more than just nostalgia, though. The packaging, does a pretty good job tracing the state of the art for PC gaming. It shows the attempts at copy protection, the deepening play experiences that required a ton of documentation, and takes you from dependency on in-store sales to the transition to online sales and DLC.

And plus, it's the weekend. This is the time for neat evergreen features and lists. And dammit, I'm gonna find stuff that isn't GTA IV, too.

Shrink Wrapped: A History of PC Game Packaging Trends [1UP]


    Quite simply, when it comes to PC gaming, the highest sales was when the boxes came large and the manuals were part of the entertainment rather than the technical manuals of today. The codewheels, etc was a very small starting point. It was soon realised that Maps and game information in the manual (like enemy ship recognition in a sub simulation) was a better way to go, and more beneficial to the product. PC games sales have dropped nearly 35% since games went from Big Boxes to DVD cases!

    DVD cases now mean gamers don't feel they have anything until they install the game! In the past you salivated about opening that big box and getting your first look at the CLOTH map in that Ultima game, or those fantastic Microprose manuals that not only told you how to play Railroad Tycoon (in an entertaining non-dry way!) but also taught you the history of the railroads! The thing was, in games like this, by reading about the history, you played the game better!

    I do agree in one regard. Fames are so much more shallow and dumber than they were, that they barely need manuals or more than a page of online instruction. Game No.2 is so like Game No.1 they might as well release it with no manual and point you to the previous game!

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