The F1 23 Cover Is Absolutely Phoning It In
On Monday, EA Sports revealed the cover for F1 23, the next installment of Codemasters’ annual Formula 1 game series. This sort of thing normally wouldn’t steal our attention here at Jalopnik, mainly because these games come out every year and have a habit of rearranging the same three or four dudes in different permutations. This one, though, merits some discussion.
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See F1 isn’t like, say, Madden or NBA 2K, where publishers are spoiled for choice for cover stars, and you tend to see a different face or last year’s surprise phenom distinguish each iteration. The hyper-dynastic, juggernauts-versus-underdogs nature of F1 kind of prevents that. And yet, fans have a habit of making a big deal out of these very predictable packaging designs. Here’s what you’ll see on shelves this year, sans the customary Xbox or PlayStation branding:
I have an issue with this one. Not for the lack of Max Verstappen; don’t fret No. 33 fans, your boy has his own cover where he and he alone is the star, for the pricier Champions Edition. My beef is that there’s something just low-effort about the design. Typically, EA and Codemasters depict the drivers in the same room — or at the very least, Photoshopped to give the impression that their floating heads were contemporaneously present. It’s one of those little details, the slightest suggestion of intent and planning that distinguishes something as an officially-licensed product developed by a gaming behemoth like EA, compared to fan art I whipped up on my MacBook Air in 15 minutes.
That’s not to say previous F1 covers have always been smash hits. 2019's was arguably even more boring than this. 2017's had damn near half the grid. And if you go back well into the pre-Liberty Media days, when neither F1 nor anyone associated with it had any idea how to market the sport, it was just generic, livery-less car after generic, helmeted driver over and over again. This series doesn’t have a history of stellar box art.
But F1 has exploded and is still exploding. It deserves more pomp, more circumstance. NHL 23 has a player doing the influencer squat in shorts under palm trees: an article of clothing and flora not typically associated with hockey. Madden NFL 22 had Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady staring you down from above, like they just stole your lunch money and the only way you’re going to get it back is by beating them in a drill or something. I have no idea what on this rapidly overheating planet is going on with NBA 2K23's cover, other than that Devin Booker must also be overheating in the Arizona sun and has evidently been trapped in the Fortnite universe. We gotta get him back!
Now is the time for F1 to get weird and loud with it, not regress into its buttoned-up, too-good-for-fun tendencies. If I had to hazard a guess, EA isn’t calling these shots on its own. F1 loves its control and prestige, even when it ostracizes wide-eyed, new converts. Now’s the time to keep the momentum up, not coast. Maybe throw a car in there. This is racing, after all. If nothing else, at least get all the guys in the same room next time.
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