Darkstares (User)

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What exactly does a AAA game mean?

Darkstares | 76d ago
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We've all heard it before, and with each new generation of gaming we all want to play them, but what exactly are they? Ask anyone and you are likely to get various answers.

Some may argue they are based on budgets, some may suggest they are based on the amount of marketing they get. While others can claim it's a thresh-hold of how well they sell. Could it possibly be a combination of all three and maybe more?

What I can offer some insight is a guideline that was used in home video and game rentals. That's because I used to be a wholesaler. A store owner or manager would put in their order of monthly releases and we would offer a catalog of everything that was coming out. So as a store manager you would have a certain budget and place your order focused on key titles and try and at least cover the main ones. As far as games go they were often rated on either how well known the titles are or who was publishing the games. A game like Madden for example would be rated a AA title. Sure one can argue rentals might differ than what consumers will buy but it's still a rough guideline. Either way Madden was popular and still is. Back in the PS2 days one could say it was even a system seller but it still didn't reach the pinnacle of AAA status. Those games would be something like Call of Duty last generation or a Mario title or Halo and Gran Turismo. Well known titles that can shift hardware and generate lots of volume.

This is long before Indie games became popular like they are now and mobile gaming. Is Angry Birds and MineCraft AAA titles? Tough to say because those games don't really get rented out. In fact rental as we know is has kind of faded away. Services like Playstation Now are soon going to be the next wave of renting games. If we want to just talk about sales there are hardly any that reach more consumers.

AAA could be linked to budgets. The more a developer spends the more likely they will also spend on marketing. What about expensive titles that don't sell well, are they classified as AAA games? Well when you are placing your order how well they sell is still unknown at that point. What about a game like Demon's Souls, was that game a AAA title? After playing it I would say so but that isn't exactly AAA material. It didn't have a huge budget, it didn't have much in the way of marketing. In fact most of the marketing was free, it's called word of mouth. In fact rental stores could not keep the title in stock. The retailers were caught off guard. It became a hit and was hard to find. What that game also did do was create the basis for the next game to be a AAA title, or at least a A title. Thus Dark Souls. The game became multiplatform and likely had a larger budget and better marketing. Didn't mean it was a better game than Demon's Souls.

There is no certain formula for a AAA game sorry to say but I think we can all agree certain games meet this criteria. Grand Theft Auto I don't think anyone would say isn't. Those games have it all. Big budgets, huge marketing, top reviews, able to sell hardware, and sell over 10 million units at a time. Yes, even reviews can impact a AAA games status.

The size of the studio and the budgets are all over the place with how games are made and released. A game like No Man's Sky is garnering lots of attention, to some that game reaches AAA standards while others see it as a small development team with grand ideas that we hope will succeed.

In the end the whole AAA status also hurts the industry. Instead of creating games based on the enjoyment of a creative process it's become more of a business. It's why many popular names have decided to go independent. Either it's the pressure to deliver, the time constraints given or the limited amount of freedom that often stifles innovation and new ideas. Plus these big budgeted titles often overshadow other games that might be good games but don't get the exposure. It can also sink a company.

I still think there is a place for AAA games and just like most people I too want them to stick around. They are kind of the go to titles we talk about when discussing a game system. What I find interesting is how we categorize games. Do we call some games AA? I rarely ever hear that term. Same with A titles. Instead it's become basically mobile, handheld, indie, and AAA. Some of these Kickstarter programs have certainly woke up a few of the big publishers out there. Perhaps the whole idea of AAA will one day go away. Once that happens maybe the pressure that goes along with it will also go away and we can just get back to making great games.

BillytheBarbarian  +   76d ago
AAA was meant as big budget title. Now it means only Sony first party titles.
Applejack  +   76d ago
I can't tell if you're being sarcastic so I'll assume you are.
DragonKnight  +   76d ago
He's not. He's trolling, but not sarcastically.
DragonKnight  +   76d ago
"There is no certain formula for a AAA game sorry to say..."

Really?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wik...

http://gameindustry.about.c...

I'd say that those two links answer the question directly and clearly.

AAA game is a game with a high budget and high promotion that is expected to sell in excess of a million copies. There's no other hidden meaning, no connection to quality at all.

And before the argument of X game being called AAA while it clearly wasn't is brought up, unscrupulous developers/publishers that want people to believe a game is AAA when it clearly didn't have a large budget or much promotion behind it do not change the definition of the term.
Darkstares  +   76d ago
That Wiki link talks about the evolution of AAA and ended on this note,

"As the years progressed and during the new millennium, many publishers started to consider their games to be AAA even before their release, and justified this decision through huge development and marketing budgets."

The AAA status started before the new millennium but you're right, that new way of marketing is true which I talked about. Many games have sold over 1 million copies and I still don't think you would get a clear consensus that all of those games are what we would consider AAA games. In fact there are some that were marketed to be AAA that never did reach 1 million sales.

I do know from being a wholesaler the scale was more than just AAA and B grade but again that was not a guideline everyone uses.

I'm not going to comment on the first reply because there really is no need (BillytheBarbarian). It's not correct.
#2.1 (Edited 76d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
BillytheBarbarian  +   76d ago
It's what I've learned here at n4g.

But yes, it was sarcastic but watch as more members see this blog the agrees will pile on.
Tetsujin  +   75d ago
Wikipedia is the LAST place I'd quote/use as a resource.

AAA is different between people; some argue budget, time, effort, and resources as "AAA property" yet someone can also argue that can be with any game/project. To me there is no such thing as AAA; there's good, quality games and there's "why was this made again?" It's all based on preference and what each individual would consider AAA regardless of how much the internet wants to argue there's some standard.
DragonKnight  +   75d ago
"Wikipedia is the LAST place I'd quote/use as a resource."

It's not like wikipedia cites the sources at the bottom... oh wait.

"AAA is different between people."

And any that deviate from the original and official definition are wrong. Multiple sources say that AAA games are games with the highest budget, highest promotion, and sales expectations of over 1 million. There is no other definition save for those fanboys invented due to their misunderstanding of what AAA is. And no, it's not based on preference. What kind of system used to judge development is based on preference.

"My game only cost $2000 to make and I did it myself but it's totally AAA because I say it is."

Great logic.
Tetsujin  +   75d ago
"It's not like wikipedia cites the sources at the bottom... oh wait."

At college as a test to prove how broken wiki is with citing sources a few students put some obvious wrong information on an article, and at the bottom had a link that looked legit; problem is so many people actually believed it being true to the point that someone actually took the time to look, and found out it was an actual test to see who was paying attention. Six months later it was finally removed; whether it started something through the people who run wiki I can't say since I don't go there at all.

""My game only cost $2000 to make and I did it myself but it's totally AAA because I say it is."

Great logic."

There are games with very low budgets, some with no advertising, and exceeded well over 1+ million sales that have AAA quality that's non flash/android/apple games (according to the definition). The problem with setting some standard as AAA is then too many people will assume "oh it has these factors, its AAA."
DragonKnight  +   75d ago
Your example becomes irrelevant the moment someone clicks on the source to determine if it is factual or not, so your inclusion of a college test is completely without merit.

"There are games with very low budgets, some with no advertising, and exceeded well over 1+ million sales that have AAA quality that's non flash/android/apple games (according to the definition). The problem with setting some standard as AAA is then too many people will assume "oh it has these factors, its AAA."

Completely irrelevant again. You made this comment approaching it with your definition of AAA. Don't believe me?

"that have AAA quality"

AAA is not about quality. It never has been. It's about budget, promotion, and sales expectations. 3 aspects, AAA, all are necessary or it's not AAA. Budget titles aren't AAA, games with next to no marketing (even the best rated first party exclusive titles) are not AAA, games with a sales expectation (read: expectation, not reality) of less than a million units sold are not AAA.

Every game that has been called AAA, if analyzed, can likely be seen as not fitting the definition, thus people decided they'd fit the definition to their own ends making a AAA game one made by a certain developer, or one that ISN'T made from certain developers, or games with high metacritic scores, or games with some but not all the requirements to meet the definition.

Just because some try to twist and skew the definition doesn't mean there isn't one, or that it's based in preference.
#2.2.3 (Edited 75d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report

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