Iam8bit launches eco-friendly packaging for Untitled Goose Game limited edition

By Anna Aguilar
August 10 2020, 12.25

Iam8bit has released the limited physical boxed edition of the Untitled Goose Game videogame with eco-friendly packaging.

The Untitled Goose Game Lovely Edition is available for PS4 and Switch and is made with recycled materials.

Co-owner of production company Iam8bit Jon Gibson said this is a first step to start the conversation about physical games being more environmentally conscious.

“This represents a big step forward for games and music industry packaging, and hopefully, a year or two from now, we’ll see a lot more of this from all publishers,” he said.

When asked whether digital distribution would be a better solution than recycled packaging, Mr Gibson said going digital, although environmentally ideal, is not possible for a variety of reasons.

“It’s not that straightforward, you need to consider a lot of factors. The first issues is that not all players around the world have the bandwidth to stream and download games, especially in regions that are several console cycles behind,” he said.

“Then you would have to completely reinvent the global marketplace so that there is universal blockchain ownership and compatibility across generations and ecosystems; or let go of the idea that video games are a culturally relevant (and significant) art form that should be archived and available to those who want access to it, whether it’s sentimental, educational or historical.”

With technology evolving at a constantly accelerating pace and updates making previous version inoperable, it is difficult to guarantee previous versions or entire games will be accessible in a few years’ time.

“Physical games are a way of protecting these games in a finite, archival way. Think about how many games from past generations, even in the last 10 years, won’t be available digitally as we approach this new console cycle. It’s a loaded conversation with a lot of variables to consider,” said Mr Gibson.

Moving towards sustainable gaming

Although complete digitisation is not yet possible, gaming developers have been making changes towards more sustainable production in other ways.

Sony joined the United Nation’s fight to climate crisis by signing The Playing for the Planet Alliance in September last year, and the eagerly awaited PlayStation 5 is set to be the most sustainable of its consoles yet.

PlayStation had already been maximising energy use and efficiency to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases through energy-saving measures.

PlayStation 4 optimisations have lowered power consumption during gaming by 43%, while PlayStation 3 consumption in gaming mode has been lowered by over 60% since its launch.

Users are calling for this commitment to more environmentally-friendly gaming to be reflected in the game packaging as well.

Designer Daniel Tiller shared an unofficial PS5 eco-friendly case mock-ups on February this year.

The carboard-sleeved designs received wide support from the community and were shared on Reddit and gaming platforms such as Push Square.

Mr Tiller said: “The idea came more from the fact that I love Vinyl cases. As a designer, and a print designer in particular, I love anything printed on a nice tactile card or paper.

“I have a collection of gaming soundtracks on Vinyl and had the idea that maybe for the next generation, games could be packaged in that way.

“The other great thing with cardboard is that you could have special finishes with the ink, glow in the dark, spot UV, or even die-cut (a hole in the box) where special editions could be much more beautiful.

“Not only would they be more beautiful, but they would then be less of an issue in terms of disposal in the future. So for me, it was a bonus, to have both.”

But not all users are on the same wavelength. Despite the increased awareness and concern over the climate change crisis, some users are reluctant to let go of the plastic packaging they have grown up with.

In response to the Untitled Goose Game Lovely Edition, players raised concerns about the durability of the case and how much it will protect the game.

An Iam8bit spokesperson responded saying: “It is made from plastic-free recycled materials, but it’s not compostable. These are sturdy, heavy-weight cases designed to live on your shelf with the rest of your collection!”

Mr Tiller also rejects the idea that durability should be a concern for users: “Sure, if you tread or bend one it would get damaged, but the same can be said of the plastic cases. I do think that it is a poor excuse. And the bigger picture is that we should care for the world around us.

“People might be against the change, but I think that if they could see the benefits from both sides, it would be a win-win.”

Further concerns were raised about how the one-off card case would look among their collection.

With the importance users place on the visual consistency and collectability of games, it is clear that any significant change will have to come from PlayStation itself.

Others have already made the switch to eco-friendly game packaging. Videogame developer Sega announced in February this year a new initiative to package their games in 100% recycled cardboard boxes.

On top of being recycled and recyclable, the use of cardboard also means they are lighter and burn less fuel to ship.

Gaming leaves a major impact on the environment, so the shift large console developers such as Sony are making towards more sustainable production are positive.

Initiatives from smaller production companies such as Iam8bit, however, will be key in voicing consumer’s desire for more eco-friendly games and pressuring the big players to adapt.

Although there may some initial pushback from consumers, starting the conversation is key to changing mentalities for a more sustainable future.

PlayStation 5 could come at the perfect time for Sony to show it is willing to take the next step.

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