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Defining AAA, AA, A/B, and ? games

The question of what is a AAA, AA, and A game has been a common topic among the users here on n4g, and the answer "You just know" doesn't work for most people. So let's dive into exactly what a AAA, AA, A, and those horrible ? games are.

A Triple A game (AAA) are games that we're developed with a significantly large budget. The game generally reviews well, since the developers put a lot of emphasis in Gameplay, Presentation, Story, Graphics, and / or Online. Acceptable Audio, Pacing, Set pieces and Thrills must be available as well. That is the foundation of a Triple A game, while this next part is highly subjective among gamers. The games generally goes on to review well scoring 8+/10 and averaging a score of 88+/100 on metacritic. The game generally receive large to massive amounts of hype and gaming websites, and goes on to sale 1+ million copies.

Examples IMO:

AAA+ (95+) GTA, Uncharted 2, Mass Effect 2, Mario, Zelda, Skyrim
AAA (91 - 94) Halo, Gears, Little Big Planet, Batman, GT, Forza, God of War, Assassin's Creed
AAA- (88 - 90) Dead Space, New Super Mario Bros., COD, Super Smash Bros., Killzone, Battlefield

A Double A game (AA) is a game that fail to reach the milestone previously set by AAA games. They generally have a lower budget than AAA games. They try to achieve the same level of game design as AAA games, but generally fall short in one or more areas such as Gameplay, Story, Graphics, Pacing, and underwhelming Set Pieces. The game goes on to score an average of (75 - 87) / 100 on metacritic and hovers just above those games that fall into dreaded "Yellow Ranking". The highest rated AA games are comparable to the lowest ranking AAA. These games are generally clones of AAA franchises that just don't reach the potential set by it's predecessor, some are practically multiplayer only, and some are just in an over saturated genre. However, some of them are truly great games, just missing that special something. They generally go on to sale 1+ million copies as well.

Examples IMO:

AA+ (85 - 87) Borderlands, Crysis, Alan Wake, Bayonetta, inFamous, Left 4 Dead, Resistance,
AA (80 - 85) Darksiders, Good Sports games, Clones of AAA games,
AA- (75 - 80) Prototype, 2nd tier Sports games, Old franchises that didn't transition well

The A/B games are those poor games that had a great idea, but the development team just couldn't make everything work seamlessly together. These are the games the land in the dreaded "Yellow Ranking" (74 and less), and while they can be good, they just don't get it. They need cultivating, and a group of leads to whip them into shape, so they can start producing AAA and AA games. Unfortunately these are the guys who are going to go under next generation.

Examples IMO:

A games (good idea, just not realized) Most RPG's / JRPG's this gen, Most Launch titles
B games (nothing special, sloppy coding) "Slaughterhouse"

The ? games (C, D, F) are those awful games that developers try to sucker you in with licensed names, or really cheap prices. These games need to go under, and a record should be filed on them so they don't move their trash to PSN / XBL / Wii Ware etc.

? games (59 >) The average movie game tie in, games sold 3 in a pack that aren't an HD collection, or bundle of an established video game franchise you know and love.

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Hufandpuf2903d ago

I've never used the term A, AA, or B game. I've only used AAA and didn't even know those other terms existed.

ABizzel12902d ago

LOL. Me either until I was involved in a forum discussion regarding it. The sole purpose of this blog is for my next blog.

brish2902d ago

The AAA issue is complex.

To most gamers it's a rating of the quality of the game.

Originally it was used to describe the cost of developing the game by publishers (A, B, and C). As the price of making games increased they started adding additional A's so that there was more categories at the high end.

Using the publishers definition most AAA games are good but not all. Additionally some A, or B games are superior to AAA titles.

Demon's Souls would probably rate as an A, or B title to publishers but it's one of my favorite games. Another example is Dead Space is probably an A to publishers but it's one of the best horror games I've ever played.

Pushagree2903d ago

Anything else=crap.

That's how gamers define it anyway.

coolbeans2903d ago (Edited 2903d ago )

That's because you're not skilled enough to be a Double O.

Tuxedo_Mask2903d ago

I couldn't be one anyway, I'm an American.

coolbeans2903d ago (Edited 2903d ago )

Ever heard of forging citizenship papers?

MI6 doesn't bother with checking that stuff anyway. ^-^

ShaunCameron2903d ago

I usually call them A-list, B-list, C-list, etcetera. And I define them in terms overall brand recognition (sales, appeal, impact/influence, acclaim).

Super Mario
The Legend Of Zelda
Grand Theft Auto
Resident Evil
Gears Of War
Call Of Duty
Final Fantasy
Elder Scrolls
Assassin's Creed
Donkey Kong
Metal Gear Solid

Saint's Row
Devil May Cry
Sonic (used to be A-list)
Tomb Raider (see Sonic)
Ninja Gaiden
Left 4 Dead
Ratchet & Clank

Tales Of _____
No More Heroes

Tommykrem2903d ago

Agree with the definitions, except I don't think metascores has that much to do with it. CoD is more of an AAA game than LBP, because it has sold a lot better. Sales count more than review scores.

Personally, I love LBP and am not that big a fan of CoD, but Cod does sell, I'll give it that.

ABizzel12902d ago

"That is the foundation of a Triple A game, while this next part is highly subjective among gamers. The games generally goes on to review well scoring 8+/10 and averaging a score of 88+/100 on metacritic. The game generally receive large to massive amounts of hype and gaming websites, and goes on to sale 1+ million copies."

Review scores and sales are subjective to a AAA game. They matter to a degree, but IMO a game that's generally accepted as good among the gaming media and community is more important than how many copies it sells.

Heavenly Sword, GTA Chinatown Wars, Dead Space 1, Psychonauts, and Mirror's Edge were all great games, and based on the sales analogy most of these games aren't even worthy of an "A / B" rating.

That's kind of why I weight reviews higher than sales. As gamers we should be recommending these AAA games so they can get the sales expected of them.

Tommykrem2901d ago

Valid points, but I still don't agree (even though there's not really any right answer, so you're not wrong in any real sense). I think you can have top-notch AA games, but if they sell really bad, they won't qualify for AAA. Thankfully, really great games usually tend to sell rather well.

Certainly, I wouldn't think of Mirror's Edge or any of the others as AAA. They're very typical AA games in my book, in the sense that they have fairly big budgets, sell all right and receive a fair-sized fanbase.

ABizzel12900d ago (Edited 2900d ago )

Understandable. There's no real right or wrong answer, just each persons take on the matter. Sales do matter IMO, just not as much as critical acclaim and personal reception.

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