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PopRocks359 (User)

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"Tapping my foot here."

The Term "AAA Game" is Fundamentally Pointless Now

PopRocks359 | 871d ago
User blog

I'm not a big fan of Destructoid's Jim Sterling. In some of his writings, I think he has been immature, overzealous, arrogant, antagonistic and just downright unpleasant. His reviews feel knee-jerk, unintelligent and at times dishonest with the objective points made. However his Jimquisition videos are something to behold. Much better with politics in the game industry and very much on the dime with business matters in the game industry. Recently, a Jimquisition video put something into perspective for me and I thought I would give my thoughts on the subject.

The AAA Game is a lost art. The big, hyped up experiences are not all they are cracked up to be anymore. Perhaps it is the fans growing up and becoming more decisive, or perhaps the games themselves have lost their charm. Either way, the term "AAA Game" no longer holds the same water as it did roughly a generation or two ago.

Back in the days of the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube, fans were always ecstatic for a new "big" release. The next Ratchet game was exciting. Halo 2's launch was epic beyond the scale of most games. Dare I bring up Twilight Princess toward the launch of the Wii and the end of the Gamecube's lifecycle? These games were BIG. They were AAA games. The fans were behind them, they sold many copies and the publishers and developers made money.

This is not the case in this day and age. With rising development costs and expectations, we are seeing more and more large scale flops. A particular example is Tomb Raider's recent reboot. Despite being a stellar and well received game, even selling several million copies, the game STILL managed to be costly to Square. It's possible to infer that if Square had opted to leave out the unnecessary multiplayer mode, the game could have been budgeted more effectively and therefor been more successful.

Another example is Resident Evil 6. This is an incredible example of something great jumping the proverbial shark. Resident Evil 4 was a turning point in the series and skyrocketed the franchise into a glorious and newfound mainstream fame. Suddenly it stopped being about fun gameplay and chilling stories and started being about Gears of War-esque co-op and in RE6's case, a muddled and disorganized clusterf**k of unnecessary gameplay tweaks and poorly utilized ideas that bogged down Shinji Mikami's original concept for the gameplay style. Resident Evil 6 was critically panned by many. I'm unsure of its financial success (or lack thereof) but presumably the HD remake of the much more lauded 3DS game Resident Evil Revelations was speculated to be made to make up for the losses Capcom had suffered from RE6's failure.

Even Dead Space 3, a long awaited sequel to an otherwise fresh take on survival horror, incorporated more action and a co-op mode and supposedly under performed compared to previous iterations. Why? To "broaden the audience" and to of course do what everyone else is damn doing. Because nothing cries new and fresh like copying Gears of War or Call of Duty.

A AAA game should not be such a blind shot in the dark. It should not be a massive gamble that is riding on 5+ million units sold to break even. Making games more generic and less unique in an effort to appeal to the mainstream is NOT going to work for what has for the most part been a very NICHE market! Only games with child/family appeal can get away with this (casual games like Wii Sports and cartoon-esque games like Skylanders come to mind).

A AAA game is a fun, successful game that a majority of people can agree was a lot of fun, such as a Smash Bros. game or an InFamous game or a... well, I'll get back to you when Microsoft makes an interesting new IP that isn't a shooter or a Kinect game. Publishers, STOP ignoring your fans and forget about the mainstream. You won't hook them with a niche game with casual elements, but instead you'll lose EVERY potential audience you have; just ask Capcom whose track record consists of "AAA games" that consistently fail to meet their expectations due to their lack of development prowess and poor business decisions, customer consideration and PR.

Anyway here is the link to the video that inspired this blog. Kudos to Sterling (man, that's weird to write out).

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

SilentNegotiator  +   871d ago
Thank Jim for Jim. He articulates industry related issues so well. I never go a Monday without watching Jimquisition.

The video he did recently with Payday 2 is a great companion to this one. He makes a lot of the same great points about how they handle development, costs, etc.

I still trust that Dark Souls 2 will be a great game, though.
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AKR  +   871d ago
Great blog. Your point is very strong.

This is what I hope to see LESS of this new generation.

That's why the coming months are so chaotic. There's so much 'AAA' content coming out all at once ~ it's starting to become stagnant. When you have major franchises trying to be other franchises - an over-saturation occurs, and that's exactly what I feel is happening right now. That's why some games either make it or break it.

Hopefully developers will focus on making fun, long-lasting quality titles this generation - and less of the first-person shooter (i.e: Mass Effect, Battlefield, Call of Duty) and open-world action/adventure titles (Assassin's Creed, Batman Arkham, Watch_Dogs, GTA, Saints Row).
KabalsHookblades  +   870d ago
Open world games are awesome in my opinion. They offer MUCH more gameplay and time to play than cps games or some Indies (I do like a lot of Indies though)

Edit: FPS not cps
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qzp  +   871d ago
Funny you bring up dead space 3 first thing i thought of, Played it for 2 hours uninstalled it. Meanwhile things like bastion, limbo etc are some of the most memorable games I've ever played. Which is why i'm proud of sony for cutting out bullshit like "First DLC" exclusivity and making a strong indie push.
cyguration  +   870d ago
Yeah, Xbox fanboys can cry to the moon over SOny's bid to cater to indies but who cares. Fanboys are stupid and I would rather have 100 awesome indies to choose from than one or two AAA generic shooters.

In fact, I can't wait to play Starbound on the PS4, amongst other games.

A line-up of fun games beats a big-budget, generic AAA title any day of the week.

Heck, a lot of the popular Let's Play videos generate most of their views and subscriptions from indie titles, not AAA titles.
crxss  +   871d ago
I don't think AAA Game is fundamentally pointless anymore, I just think the term needs to be redefined. I never considered Tomb Raider or Dead Space 3 as a AAA title. A AAA title to me has to fulfill three requirements (one for each A haha): highly anticipated, sell well (obviously), and also receive high scores from media outlets. That's assuming the game has already released, but for a game that hasn't released I don't think you can call it a AAA title. At most you could call it the sequel to last year's AAA title.

Doesn't matter though since a AAA game doesn't have a definite definition (actually I'm not sure, does it?). Still, the term "AAA game" will be used constantly and can just simply mean a popular game until someone sets the record straight.
#4 (Edited 871d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Letros  +   871d ago
Clearly we need an AAAA budget term for games now. GTA V was probably one of them.
FamilyGuy  +   871d ago
Publishers/Devs need to manage their game budgets better, it's as simple as that.

I don't really see the need for a long discussion on it, if they're going to through over 100million at making a game they better be sure there's enough anticipation for that game so that it makes sense.
zerocrossing  +   871d ago
Great blog, you make some excellent points.

It's true, the term "AAA game" has lost most of it's original meaning, but that's no surprise really. I mean with constant disappointment, bloated budgets and over the top marketing campaigns, causing publishers profits to dwindle to the point a product earning them $7,million is considered a "failure" is ludicrous.

Generic over hyped yearly releases like COD, which apparently dictate the standard of the industry today, have only insured the bar stays firmly in place while other companies try desperately to replicate the success of this generations most "popular" franchise. Quality titles are becoming a thing of the past, and that's because companies care more about mass appeal and profits than actually creating quality entertainment.
#7 (Edited 871d ago ) | Agree(5) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
majiebeast  +   870d ago
AAA for me these last few years stands for 75% for uninspired sequels,overbloated development budgets and insane marketing budgets.

When you hear that a game like Splintercell blacklist had 300 developers working on it, you know Ubisoft is doing something wrong. When you compare that to Infamous SS which is looking like one of the best next gen games, thats being made by a team of 80 devs.

Uncharted 1,2,3 all had budgets in the 20-30 million dollar range. It really would not surprise me at all if the dev budget of Tombraider alone was 75 million and thats without the insane marketing campaign which is prob another 100-150.

Im having more fun with Hotline Miami,Guacemelee,Cubeworld and other indie/downloable games then i had with games like Bioshock Infinite and Splintercell Blacklist. Thats a worrying trend, just like another big upcoming one, games as a service like The Division,Destiny and other always connected games what prevents these big publishers from pulling the plug on the servers.
cyguration  +   870d ago
Yeah I'm torn on The Division. It looks kind of fun, like a more high-polished DayZ, but if it's not quite an MMO and not quite a standalone retail game, why should I be interested? It's literally just a rent-a-game with a retail price attached and that doesn't interest me at all.

I have been pleasantly surprised with Cubeworld, though, that game looks like so much fun and reminds me of what RPGs should have been like following the original Zelda 64.
fsfsxii  +   870d ago
AAA games are shit righr now, the whole industry is in the toilet. What ruined them is trying to attract more people and thus changing the core essence of the game (*Cough* RE series *cough*)

If it wasn't for NISA and xseed, i would've quit the hobby by last year. Right now, my interest in gaming decreases by the day.
zero_gamer  +   870d ago
Ever since I started buying NIS and Xeed games this year I stopped reading IGN and Gamespot reviews for games I am interested in. That was a big mistake that I have been making for over a decade, and most AAA reviews are paid anyway.
fsfsxii  +   870d ago
I've been doing the same exact thing bro, starting at march this year, i was slowly moving away from the AAA games as they lost everything that interested me.
NIS is what brought me back to good gaming. I surprisingly enjoyed the games they brought despite their low review scores.

NIS > EA and the rest of the AAA garbage publishers.
Blacklash93  +   870d ago
AAA has become too big for its own good. The competitve market has become more about selling out to popular (which eventaully become tired and generic) ideas for mass appeal than using creativity to stand out this generation. It's a crutch to compensate for these incresingly overbloated budgets; it's playing it safe. Some titles can work well with this environment, but not enough. It's become a rotten and restrictive place for fresh ideas to flourish.

The industry needs to shift to brave ideas, lasting and flexible engines, efficient and reusable toolsets, and focused teams to combat this trend. The key is easier profits with lesser development costs, while increasing efficiency to keep the ambition behind the project workable.

The consumer market isn't a creature so bad that rejects all new things. Portal, Bastion, Hotline Miami, ect. All are unique indie(esque) titles with niche concepts that try new experiences, and they still find considerable mainstream success.
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solidjun5  +   870d ago
I am 100% in agreement with this blog. Very well done.
The RE6 and the Tomb Raider is a perfect example. I'm surprised Square Enix though Tomb Raider was going to sell 5 million when the previous iterations weren't even that good. I believe they were ignorant enough to think gamers would forget the previous iterations and thus blindly buy this one. I'm glad they made a pretty good game, but I think they're blaming the high costs of development on other factors and not themselves.

Resident Evil 6: That was a hodgepodge of elements that departed from what made the RE series great. You would think Capcom would listen to fans after the complaints levied against RE5. But RE5 sold a lot so i guess they assume we would forget it and just buy RE6. I's Capcom.

You're right. AAA is not what it use to be. I know it means budget but I'll take your definition: "A AAA game is a fun, successful game that a majority of people can agree was a lot of fun,...." It shouldn't take 300 people to make a great, fun and successful game. I'm sure publishers will blame us for not buying and thus find new ways to nickle and dime us.

+1 for a well written blog.
Tiqila  +   870d ago
So because games like Tomb Raider, RE6 and Dead Space 3 are called AAA-titles the term "AAA Game" is useless.

There is too many people writing blogs and using these terms in the wrong way, I agree. Triple A should not represent a game with a high budget.

The last of Us is AAA, GTA V is, Pikmin 3 is and Wind Waker HD sure is too. And I cant be more excited for those games. As if I care what they are called.
cunnilumpkin  +   869d ago
Publishers/Devs need to stop spending 50% of their budget (sometimes much more) on advertising and get back to making good games

they will sell themselves

there is a reason people still buy ps2 copies of persona 3 and 4 to this day

there is a reason you can find warcraft 3 in EVERY department store in the world practically (it came out 12 years ago and people still buy it constantly)

games like the sims2 that have sold over 20 million copies and still sell like crazy

diablo 2 battle chest can still be found everywhere, diablo 3 sold 16 million copies and will continue to sell well over 20 million just on pc

kingdom hearts 1 and 2 still sell like crazy

sure, the average game gets 2 weeks at market to push as many units as possible and then it will barely sell anything after

but there is a reason for that, all the hype and advertising that goes into the game takes over 50% of the budget, takes away from the quality most of the time and generates a bunch of over inflated hype, when the initial 2 million or so (nerds like us who rabidly follow game release info) buy and are unimpressed, then the hype dies off and the general public does not hear much about it because it wasn't that great to begin with
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