Written by Ryan Johnson (RyanDJ) Sunday, 11 December 2011 12:00
As digital gaming downloads become more worthwhile, some (myself included) have wanted to gift them for holidays or birthdays. But how to present it? If you go to GameStop and buy DLC directly, you can get a code for a specific game on a receipt. Not the greatest tangible reward. If you know the exact thing you want to get someone but can only get a Microsoft Points card, it almost looks uncaring as you give a generic gift card. So what do you do?
Last year, I wanted to give my good friend all of the expansions for Red Dead Redemption. I knew he loved the game and thought there was no full game that could please him quite like expanding his #1 played game. I walked out of the store with a depressingly boring receipt. I knew he would enjoy the collection, but I know as we sit around watching the kids unwrap, it'd be cool to have something tangible to look at.
I figured I could make a game box for my digital download. I scanned the blandest cover I had (this way I could edit easier; people tell me Skyrim would work well now as all you have to black out is one silver dragon) and began editing. I recommend making your own cover scan, as then you can guarantee it is to scale, and this saves some hassle from trying to guarantee a proper sizing from a downloaded image. Also, you can remove the game art from the plastic sleeve and get a full size scan of a front and back to edit as you please. I used the basic Paint program to white out everything but the Xbox top bar and the ESRB stuff. Then, boom. My own personal canvas.
What can you do to make your download cover art? Either find the Arcade cover at Xbox.com, clip and combine art like I did, find a great premade item over at steamcovers.com if that fits your digital download, or just bust out the Paint tools and scribble something fun! Print, and it should stay to scale. Use an old DVD box or ask GameStop for a 360/PS3 box, they've always had a spare if I needed one. Extra creative? Print up a manual or make a cardboard disc and write the "data" on the disc. This way, they'll most likely use those points you bought on the content you want them to have, and not stash the points away into some other DLC.
Fake boxes aren't the only way to do it. I gifted Wii's Wild West Guns to him the year prior. Hid the game four pages back on his console, and gifted two Wii Perfect Shot guns with a self printed certificate. Get creative! Get your crafty spouse or kids to help, make it a bonding exercise. Slap a Tetris download code on a crafted block. Final Fantasy 7 on PSN? Craft a mini replica Buster Sword, make the code some special engravings on it.
Downloadable content is a great gift, but it will never have that gifting "wow" factor without a little creativity. Stumped as to which games and expansions would make good gifts? Be on the lookout for my next two articles: Downloadable Xbox Gems of 2011 and Best of Xbox Arcade, both due before Christmas!