Mass Effect 3’s Reversible Box Cover Features Hidden FemShep

A screenshot of a video of the Mass Effect 3 cover for Xbox 360, showing FemShep.

This unboxing video of Mass Effect 3 shows that despite FemShep not being featured on the cover on the shelves, you can flip the cover at home and have your box feature her instead of the male Shepard.

What do you think of this? ¬†I’m mixed between sad that she isn’t on the cover by default but happy that we at least have the option. ¬†Progress?

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45 Responses to Mass Effect 3’s Reversible Box Cover Features Hidden FemShep

  1. Better than not having her at all, I guess. But I know what I’m gonna be doing at Gamestop the weekend after launch…

  2. SleekitSicarian says:

    She’s on the back too, at least. I find all of the marketing departments hesitant overtures towards acknowledging FemShep’s existence a little irritating (not least because of the disingenuous tone of “Whaaat? People do play this game as a woman PC?” some of the higher-ups took in the early days.
    That said, I guess it’s something. But it feels like a safe way of being inclusive? Like, the only way you’re gonna see it is once you get home and open the thing, so it’s not in danger of putting off the bros in the store.
    *shrugs* I’m given to cynicism, though.

  3. Rawles says:

    I’m conflicted.

    I like that she’s there, but I’m irritated they didn’t just go all the way and ship half of the games with it on her by default.

    I also think that this is all a little… not too little, too late, but very nearly so.

    At any rate, good to know that peeps won’t have to have BroShep staring at them eternally if they don’t want.

  4. Norah says:

    I know why it’s important that she’s there, and why it’s… eh… that they still put DudeShep on the front by default, but I’d rather not have either of them on the cover:
    it’s a boring cover, and neither of them looks like the “real” Shepard anyway (i.e. the one that I always make and that has come to be *Shepard* to me), and I can’t be alone in that.

  5. Alex says:

    Secret mission to go into game stores and flip the covers around???? >:D

    I’m glad they put her on all the covers and not just the CE ones!

  6. KIrving says:

    Well it is good news that it’s going to be on all physical copies of the game and not just the CE, as BioWare initially said. I’m also tempted to go around reversing covers.

  7. Nigel says:

    Net progress. Quite frankly, she ain’t my Shepard just as much as Sheploo ain’t my Shepard so I don’t care either way, but it’s cool that players have the choice. I’m still of the opinion that the best option is just the N7 logo or through some automagicalia the Shepard of my choosing.

    • Zaewen says:

      Yea, there’s a lot of iconic images they could’ve gone with an avoided the whole issue (well, outside of trailers). The N7 logo, a mass effect relay, the citadel, omega, the normandy, or heck a giant reaper invasion looming menacingly above earth’s atmosphere.

  8. Rakaziel says:

    Progress, albeit a very timid one.

  9. Maverynthia says:

    I say it’s a stalemate. They could have easily flipped some of the covers around and shipped it that way.

  10. GarrickW says:

    It’s a shame they didn’t randomize which figure appears on the front, or do some kind of hybrid cover. Still, though, it’s a small step in the right direction. Perhaps they will be inspired to include female characters in marketing in future games from the start.

    I most like the idea some of the posters above had – use something else, besides Shepard, since even the default male-female doesn’t represent most people’s Shepard (certainly not either of mine). Given that this looks the most war-and-action-heavy of the series, surely there are some dramatic scenes with Reapers or the Normandy, or the Normandy’s crew, that would serve equally well.

  11. Deviija says:

    Like some posters above have been talking about, there are many, many, many other ways to market a game and make it recognizable and iconic. There doesn’t even NEED to be a main character on the front of the box! The game can sell itself with your companions/main storyline characters/villains featured on the boxart like SW: Knights of the Old Republic did. Or how BioWare used to market its older games — simply by using iconic symbols and decals a la Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter series.

    The only reason marketing claims it needs an iconic human figure is to underscore the emphasis on white (hetero) male protagonist that a very specific audience can ‘identify’ with. Which makes it pretty clear what the target demographic is.

    DA:O’s Sacred Ashes CGI is amazing to me and I love it to bits. But, imo, there was no need whatsoever to feature a white male hero in it. Lelianna’s recognizable, Sten is recognizable, Morrigan is recognizable, and the last spot could have easily been filled by Alistair or even Zevran. Notice, too, that both the ladies featured are love interests, yet always male love interests are rarely, if ever, seen in marketing trailers and CGI. Ashley was in Shepard’s latest CGI trailer for ME3.

    Anyway, back on point, I think FemShep’s reversible box cover is a step at least. It’s fair to feel that it is too little too late, or ask why she’s ‘hidden’ like so (though she is supposedly featured on the back of the box), and etc etc. I understand. However, for me, I think this is actually much better than what was originally planned with FemShep’s marketing. She was actually ONLY going to be featured on the COLLECTOR’S EDITION tin, with DudeShep on one side and FemShep on the back. Now, with this, at least everyone that buys the game (and not just the CE) can have the choice of FemShep.

  12. From yonder land says:

    Would it really be that expensive to turn half the covers during manufacturing? I mean yes it’s just the bloody box art but they could have given their decision to feature both Shepards just a tad more weight.

    • Unless you are not using cheep labor that manually put the cover in, which I flipping hope not, it is my understanding that it is not as tivial task for a automated process and there is significant cost attached to it.

      All and all I think that it is good to have the option it and it is not a EE lara “croft” sherperd look alike.
      the author is riding horse, and when the horse you ride give you a move just as soon as started to think about it and just gave minimal indications. I am happy that it happened and whish it happens more often not pointing out that the bastard/roten mare did not do it before or more often. (it works both ways horse riding should be a dialoge nor a monologue)

      As Deejiva, pointed out, the demographic target is white hetero male (ie me). So for some reason I am suppose to identify more with shep that way.
      As nigel said it is not the shepard I played or intend to play so for me it is just a dude and a dudess on either side of the jacket. For me it is the same as having a big M3 or the normandy, the whole crew or a reaper ship.

      Not mention that by now BW the DA/ME series are well known for having homesexual relationships. and if you don’t know yet a low level google-fu will tell you. Especially after the outcry about DA:O “graphically representing and pushing male or females homosexuality to our children” (theirs words not mine).
      anyway my point is that really the sheperd on the cover, regardless of the geder is only hetero I you wish to see him so.


  13. GLaDOS says:

    Like a lot of other posters here I also have mixed feelings about this.

    On the one hand I think it’s great to have the option. I missed out on the Xbox360 Collectors Edition, so having a female Shep on the cover of the general release of the game is a wonderful relief. Despite the problematic manner by which BioWare selected this female Shep, I like the way she looks and the way she’s presented here.

    Though she does not look like Erinn Shepard (my custom Shep), to me female Shepard has never had a single face. I’m attached to my Shep, but I’ve grown to feel that female Shepard is not one woman, but thousands of different women. Every time I see a female Shep other than my own, I still feel attached to the character. I don’t know if it’s Jennifer Hale’s voice acting or the general attitude of the character or because of the way parts of the ME fandom embraced her from the start despite her lack of publicity, but at the serious risk of sentimental and pretentious I think that each female Shepard shares some underlying quality. I don’t think ‘soul’ is the right word for it, but it’s the closest one I can think of at the moment. [I’m not trying to suggest that this is the correct way to see female Shep or anything, it’s just the way it’s all fallen into place for me. I totally respect the ways other fans view the character :)]

    On the other hand, I’m disappointed that for a game series where choice is such a defining factor of the gameplay and storyline that it’s taken this long to reflect that on the design of the packaging. I think that Mass Effect’s main covers have been relatively dull and unremarkable so far and that the N7 logo, the Normandy, an enemy soldier or something like that could have had more impact than Sheploo’s dull mug all these years. Or if Marketing wanted Shep on the box, how about Shep in the full mask? If they’d shown Shep in the mask from the neck up it could have been done in such a way that we wouldn’t know the gender or appearance of the character.

    Despite these quibbles and what-ifs, I am glad to see this and I will relish reversing the cover when my copy arrives.

  14. wererogue says:

    Since most retailers open the boxes before sale anyway now, it’d be great to have a campaign encouraging them to flip some of the covers themselves.

  15. gunthera1 says:

    I ordered the Collector’s Edition of the game BECAUSE it had that option. The fact that Bioware now has it an option on all copies is a positive!

    However, I also wish it was just half the cases had the male cover in the front and the other half had the female cover with having the option of flipping them over at home. By making the male cover the default it prioritizes the male over the female version of the character. Bioware said at one point the ~12% of gamers played using the female Shepard. If the default option within the game had been female, and gamers had to switch over to change to male, I wonder how that number would have changed. Just by having male as default that option will get more numbers and more attention. The same holds true for the cover. Male is default, with female as optional. I am glad it IS an option rather than being invisible… but it still has male as the default.

    • Nigel says:

      Honestly I don’t think the numbers would have changed much if female were the default, but I do believe there would have been some very loud complaining!

      Instead there should be no default choice. Rather than have a default, players should affirmatively choose their desired sex. This way no matter what sex players chooses they have to perform the same action rather than have the shortcut to male that exists today.

      Even better would be a more granular customization system where players aren’t gated through sex at all. In this system, every character starts out as just “human” while various components of the character’s body can be customized and every part would work with every other part. That human btw would be some unnatural default, like a dashed outline or featureless ghost. This would allow players to mix and match body parts (burly arms, wide hips, potbellies, washboard abs, skinny legs, ANY FREAKIN’ HAIRSTYLE etc) and not have to be constrained with binary choices. Sex in this system is reduced to choosing one of several different kinds of genital, um, packages which could be represented in any number of silly or serious ways. This kind of system would be a natural fit for the futuristic medicine of the Mass Effect universe and it could communicate a lot about the world as players customize their characters.

    • Deviija says:

      That dreadful ‘statistic’ from their telemetry data. Data BioWare loves to throw around as some kind of proof. There is so much wrong with the data that it irritates me they hold it up like they do. :\ I mean, it’s voluntary data at that, something I turned off immediately when I popped ME2 into the tray. And how do they count Shepards? If I made 8 dudes and 4 ladies under my profile, does this mean that 8 dudes are counted toward ‘those that play DudeShep?’ What if those 8 dudes never went much further beyond the intro, yet I finished the game with all 4 ladies? Wouldn’t the latter show more interest in FemShep than the former? Do they only count the first Shepard that a person makes? So many questions and so many conditions make all that telemetry so shallow, imo.

      • That is the world of statists for you, working in the software industry; statistic, marketing and what happens are three different things.

        I am taking a wild guess but I would assume that they are getting their market segmentation by using info supplied by registered user.

        I mean your 8 sheppdude and 4femshep or my femshep are not the one parting with the doe

  16. qubodup says:

    StarCraft I Brood War had a women on the cover.

    But this is a bad comparison. What about other games that have the option to play female or male characters that has either on the cover? Can anybody name some to compare?

    Actually.. is there a list of games that allows playing male or female characters (50-50)?

  17. susi says:

    FemShep has better voice acting; overall (to me), she just seems to be the more believable Shep–I’d like to see her get some more recognition in commercials, previews, art, etc.

    At least BioWare isn’t doing the awful thing with ME that they did with KOTR, where they decide one sex is canon and the other isn’t.

    • Norah says:

      I thought they had, though?

      • Twyst says:

        They have said that for marketing, it is dudeShep, but in their comcis, Shepard’s gender is never referenced.

    • Deviija says:

      I think it is only a matter of time before DudeShep is made into canon. The ME movie is starring DudeShep, after all, too. With all this media exposure of Shepard as a white straight dude, I think it is all but clinched that DudeShep is going to become canon. It is only a matter of when. It is how things went with Revan, actually, too. And, I am cynical.

      But as of now, yeah, there is no officially-endorsed canon Shepard.

  18. Austin says:

    It’s nice that it is at least an option. I think they should have shipped %50 with the cover flipped, because alternate covers are always awesome.

    That being said, it is a bummer that the man-shep will be the default on all other materials moving forward. Steam, Amazon, Gamefly, etc, will always have him as the main image so no surprise they are shipping that way too. Semi-cruddy consolation, but baby steps I suppose.

  19. Twyst says:

    Fact is, 50% of players did not play FemShep. I love her, we all love her, but they have the numbers. Secondly, they paid for that dude’s face. Thus, his face is the face of the game – i wonder if they are getting into breach of contract with him, featuring another actor.

    I got the CE. Were i to get the non-CE i would flip my cover around.

    • Twyst says:

      (And i also agree that the data isnt that solid, but it is what they have and what they are going to point to. Frankly, i dont think they expected any support for FemShep, and just proceeded along their merry way, and are trying to do what they can now).

  20. Lima Zulu says:

    Anyone see the live-action commercial? The one where a helmet over Shepard’s head would have both made sense and allowed for a gender-neutral portrayal?

    Dudeshep it is. Damnation.

  21. Linar says:

    The covers need more geth, less Shep.

  22. MonkeyKing1969 says:

    That is the weird thing about choice, once there is a choice we can all come up with other choices. My two Sheps, an Asian male and white brunet female, will never have a cover of their own unless I make one for them

    I would find value in an “online” shop where I can make my own cover. Choose my own image, maybe even my Shep, and then have it professionally printed for $7.95 Yes, not really a solution as much as a work around, but it would be fun.

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