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I did a google search and came up with the following:

As per Wikipedia: In the video game industry, AAA (pronounced "triple A") or Triple-A is a classification term used for games with the highest development budgets and levels of promotion. A title considered to be AAA is therefore expected to be a high quality game or to be among the year's bestsellers.

Sure, it's Wikipedia, but all of the following results said the same thing in slightly different words. So there is a perception of expected sales or quality, because people conflate big budget and high production values. Doesn't mean the end product is going to be good. We see overhyped big budget games fail frequently. However, there is a perception and expectation that quality and sales come from putting a lot of resources into the development.

So I agree that not all AAA games are great. However, I disagree that this changes the definition of the phrase. The phrase is about budget and promotion. Quality is assumed but not necessarily realized. Can't change that, just because there are heavily promoted games with huge budgets that end up sucking.



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What planet are you from? AAA means production values and money, nothing about quality, its a phrase that was coined to describe a certain game(s), similar to a blockbuster movie. Why are you coming round here trying to sprout bullshit that aint true?



DonFerrari said:
irstupid said:
AAA game is the same as like a big hollywood blockbuster movie.

Quality means nothing. Just means a shit ton of money was spent on the game. The movie/game can suck or bomb in sales, but that doesn't make it not a blockbuster/AAA game.

I think that for movies they need to sell a lot to be blockbusters (movies that the waiting line would go over the block), but yes generally they'll all be those high budget and usually action movies.

Would you not consider John Carter a blockbuster? The movie cost a shit ton and marketing was huge. The movie was a giant bomb. Like one of the largest of all time.

Shiken said:
irstupid said:
AAA game is the same as like a big hollywood blockbuster movie.

Quality means nothing. Just means a shit ton of money was spent on the game. The movie/game can suck or bomb in sales, but that doesn't make it not a blockbuster/AAA game.

Then we as gamers need to word things better when making certain requests.  Like instead of saying, "I want more 3rd party AAA games on Switch," people should say  " I want more QUALITY 3rd party games on Switch."

 

Most people would rather have games like Octopath Traveler, Mario Plus Rabbids, or Fortnite on the console than many of the other lackluster AAA games.  They would be nice to have, and people would brag, but quality seems to be trumping games that cost more to make.  Even the better AAA games that do come to Switch seem to struggle despite people wanting them on the system.  DOOM and Wolf 2 for example, while great ports, lacked in quality when compared to their counterparts.  But cheaper games that are just as good like Crash, Sonic Mania, Octopath, etc are selling like hotcacks.  So when most Switch gamers beg for more AAA 3rd party games, they are not truly asking for what they want based on sales numbers.

 

I am not saying you are wrong, it is just a difference of perspective.  One party is looking at it from a consumer standpoint (mainly Nintendo fans) while the other is looking at it from a development standpoint.  Both sides have a point, and while the development standpoint seems to be the traditional term, a difference in perspective is causing a lose in translation when the topic is discussed.

Obviously we want quality and quality helps a system sell as well, but whether or not a AAA game ends up being good or sells well in the end, before it is released it works as one giant advertisement for the system. People will buy a system for the promise of a future AAA game coming out for it. When the game comes out and sucks, it don't matter, the system was already sold and that consumer is in the ecosystem for that system.

So when people want say Call of Duty for the Switch, it's not because they give a shit about the game, it because they want those that do give a shit about that game to buy the Switch.



GoOnKid said:

Let me ask differently.

Where is the line between AAA, AA and A and how can we distinguish them?

AAA games are high budget games like CoD, Tomb Raider, GTAV. AA games are mid budget games like State of Decay, Life is Strange, Crash Bandicoot remaster, and A games are low budget games like shovel knight and most other side scrolling indies.

Also for weaker platforms a game like Pokemon on the 3DS would be considered AAA on the 3ds since Pokemon has a high budget compared to other 3DS games.



Alright, thanks to all of you so far. Thanks to some of your posts (especially by vivster and Shiken) I realized that there are indeed two ways to look at this subject and I realized that I indeed looked at it from the wrong side. I can admit that. In hindsight I should have made a different thread that revolves around the link between high budgets and good games. This is an entire different subject and doesn't fit into this thread, so maybe this one can be locked, I guess.

Still, nobody of us can truly explain when a game is AAA and when it isn't yet. We can only make guesses.

danasider said:
I did a google search and came up with the following:

As per Wikipedia: In the video game industry, AAA (pronounced "triple A") or Triple-A is a classification term used for games with the highest development budgets and levels of promotion. A title considered to be AAA is therefore expected to be a high quality game or to be among the year's bestsellers.

Sure, it's Wikipedia, but all of the following results said the same thing in slightly different words. So there is a perception of expected sales or quality, because people conflate big budget and high production values. Doesn't mean the end product is going to be good. We see overhyped big budget games fail frequently. However, there is a perception and expectation that quality and sales come from putting a lot of resources into the development.

So I agree that not all AAA games are great. However, I disagree that this changes the definition of the phrase. The phrase is about budget and promotion. Quality is assumed but not necessarily realized. Can't change that, just because there are heavily promoted games with huge budgets that end up sucking.

This is exactly the thing. There is a level of expectation about the quality when we see or hear that a game has a high buget. Let's look at future blockbuster games like Ghost of Tsuhima or Smash Ultimate. We easily consider those games as AAA because they look huge and have high efforts put into them. But we don't know how expensive they are to be produced. We only project a high quality into them as we believe that a) high budgets are to some extent necessary for games like these and b) high budgets ensure that these games will be good and c) other games that look similar are known to be expensive. All of those are nothing but guesses.

Nogamez said:
What planet are you from? AAA means production values and money, nothing about quality, its a phrase that was coined to describe a certain game(s), similar to a blockbuster movie. Why are you coming round here trying to sprout bullshit that aint true?

You've probably had a bad day, hadn't you? Wanna grab some ice cream, perhaps?



Gameplay > Graphics

Substance > Style

Art Direction > Realism

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danasider said:
I did a google search and came up with the following:

As per Wikipedia: In the video game industry, AAA (pronounced "triple A") or Triple-A is a classification term used for games with the highest development budgets and levels of promotion. A title considered to be AAA is therefore expected to be a high quality game or to be among the year's bestsellers.

Sure, it's Wikipedia, but all of the following results said the same thing in slightly different words. So there is a perception of expected sales or quality, because people conflate big budget and high production values. Doesn't mean the end product is going to be good. We see overhyped big budget games fail frequently. However, there is a perception and expectation that quality and sales come from putting a lot of resources into the development.

So I agree that not all AAA games are great. However, I disagree that this changes the definition of the phrase. The phrase is about budget and promotion. Quality is assumed but not necessarily realized. Can't change that, just because there are heavily promoted games with huge budgets that end up sucking.

Yep, a lot of AAA are shit and several B or A games are great. Doesn't change that the first one put a lot more money on it (and usually will sell a lot more).

Myself I end up buying most of my games when they are both AAA and good.

irstupid said:
DonFerrari said:

I think that for movies they need to sell a lot to be blockbusters (movies that the waiting line would go over the block), but yes generally they'll all be those high budget and usually action movies.

Would you not consider John Carter a blockbuster? The movie cost a shit ton and marketing was huge. The movie was a giant bomb. Like one of the largest of all time.

Shiken said:

Then we as gamers need to word things better when making certain requests.  Like instead of saying, "I want more 3rd party AAA games on Switch," people should say  " I want more QUALITY 3rd party games on Switch."

 

Most people would rather have games like Octopath Traveler, Mario Plus Rabbids, or Fortnite on the console than many of the other lackluster AAA games.  They would be nice to have, and people would brag, but quality seems to be trumping games that cost more to make.  Even the better AAA games that do come to Switch seem to struggle despite people wanting them on the system.  DOOM and Wolf 2 for example, while great ports, lacked in quality when compared to their counterparts.  But cheaper games that are just as good like Crash, Sonic Mania, Octopath, etc are selling like hotcacks.  So when most Switch gamers beg for more AAA 3rd party games, they are not truly asking for what they want based on sales numbers.

 

I am not saying you are wrong, it is just a difference of perspective.  One party is looking at it from a consumer standpoint (mainly Nintendo fans) while the other is looking at it from a development standpoint.  Both sides have a point, and while the development standpoint seems to be the traditional term, a difference in perspective is causing a lose in translation when the topic is discussed.

Obviously we want quality and quality helps a system sell as well, but whether or not a AAA game ends up being good or sells well in the end, before it is released it works as one giant advertisement for the system. People will buy a system for the promise of a future AAA game coming out for it. When the game comes out and sucks, it don't matter, the system was already sold and that consumer is in the ecosystem for that system.

So when people want say Call of Duty for the Switch, it's not because they give a shit about the game, it because they want those that do give a shit about that game to buy the Switch.

John Carter may have been created to be a blockbuster, but for me if it didn't bust the block it aint block buster (I may be wrong and for Hollywood blockbuster mean only high budget, but for me, only if it had high sales it would be blockbuster).

And also there are some that want CoD on the system not because they will play but just so they don't see the publisher not caring about the system as they do. Myself I wouldn't have any complain if they dropped the yearly sport and fps games on PS4, but I know that would probably impact a lot the sales of the system.

GoOnKid said:

Alright, thanks to all of you so far. Thanks to some of your posts (especially by vivster and Shiken) I realized that there are indeed two ways to look at this subject and I realized that I indeed looked at it from the wrong side. I can admit that. In hindsight I should have made a different thread that revolves around the link between high budgets and good games. This is an entire different subject and doesn't fit into this thread, so maybe this one can be locked, I guess.

Still, nobody of us can truly explain when a game is AAA and when it isn't yet. We can only make guesses.

danasider said:
I did a google search and came up with the following:

As per Wikipedia: In the video game industry, AAA (pronounced "triple A") or Triple-A is a classification term used for games with the highest development budgets and levels of promotion. A title considered to be AAA is therefore expected to be a high quality game or to be among the year's bestsellers.

Sure, it's Wikipedia, but all of the following results said the same thing in slightly different words. So there is a perception of expected sales or quality, because people conflate big budget and high production values. Doesn't mean the end product is going to be good. We see overhyped big budget games fail frequently. However, there is a perception and expectation that quality and sales come from putting a lot of resources into the development.

So I agree that not all AAA games are great. However, I disagree that this changes the definition of the phrase. The phrase is about budget and promotion. Quality is assumed but not necessarily realized. Can't change that, just because there are heavily promoted games with huge budgets that end up sucking.

This is exactly the thing. There is a level of expectation about the quality when we see or hear that a game has a high buget. Let's look at future blockbuster games like Ghost of Tsuhima or Smash Ultimate. We easily consider those games as AAA because they look huge and have high efforts put into them. But we don't know how expensive they are to be produced. We only project a high quality into them as we believe that a) high budgets are to some extent necessary for games like these and b) high budgets ensure that these games will be good and c) other games that look similar are known to be expensive. All of those are nothing but guesses.

Nogamez said:
What planet are you from? AAA means production values and money, nothing about quality, its a phrase that was coined to describe a certain game(s), similar to a blockbuster movie. Why are you coming round here trying to sprout bullshit that aint true?

You've probably had a bad day, hadn't you? Wanna grab some ice cream, perhaps?

It is not that hard to investigate and see if a game could be qualified as high budget.



duduspace11 "Well, since we are estimating costs, Pokemon Red/Blue did cost Nintendo about $50m to make back in 1996"

http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/post.php?id=8808363

Mr Puggsly: "Hehe, I said good profit. You said big profit. Frankly, not losing money is what I meant by good. Don't get hung up on semantics"

http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/post.php?id=9008994

AAA definition is very simple:
A lot of money.
A lot of time.
A lot of resources.

It is a classification term for video games that is roughly the equivalent of the film class blockbuster.

A bit of an addition: in almost all cases, a highly paid staff of business-minded producers have most of the creative control.

 

 

To expand a little. It's also a part of the industry. The strategy is to create a game, put it out, see if people buy it by the millions. Then dump millions more dollars and people into multiple sequels simultaneously in development so the cadence of release can be higher than simply completing one game after another. In addition, there's a lot of "pipelining" where there are people who have specific roles in the development process, and then when they are complete, they move on and begin the same job on the next game (employees on the development pipeline are like replaceable parts). These are, more or less, Producer games where the designers don't have much control over anything except getting the documentation down, the artists must follow the templates, as all art and design are controlled by lawyer-like producers who are more interested in the financial sales goals than the art form. This is basically what happened with Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed. The film industry is very similar as well. It's also why most AAA and blockbusters seem to have really cool looking scenes, but the originality of a cardboard box with a different coat of paint on it - it may look vastly different on the surface, but underneath it's the same sort of box. There's nothing incredibly sinister about this pipeline/producer model, it has been used in franchised TV programs since at least the 1950s; what it does do is create consistent themed content for consumption and generate revenue through niche exploitation as most people prefer repetition of what is familiar to them; and it is much less reliant on being a work of art as it is much more constrained - this is why earlier TV shows tend to have more satisfying content in the earlier series despite the earlier not necessarily being objectively better than the later; it's because people look at it and see "this is really good, but I've seen this box before. This earlier box is the original."

What are the precise values of money, people, and resources to make a game AAA? Like the blockbuster film, it's mainly arbitrary and ever-changing. And similar to blockbuster films, the precise definition of AAA games are always going to have people debating. "Is Godfather a blockbuster film or not?" "How about Taxi Driver?" "American Beauty?" etc...

Last edited by Jumpin - on 30 July 2018

I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.

You can easily determine if something is of high production value even if you can't say it has a high budget. You can see what costs a lot to make and what is cheap to make and base it off of that.
For instance The Last of Us pt 2 could technically be made for $2000 and be cheap in production cost but we all know that given the actual game and what it has that it is of high production values.



AAA is definitely about studio size and budget, it has nothing to do with the quality of the finished project. There are no clear rules for where the cutoff points between A/Indie, AA, and AAA lie, but generally speaking I'd say it's somewhere in this neighborhood as of 2018: 

A/Indie- Team sizes between 1 and 40 devs typically. Budgets can range from just a few thousand dollars for 1 man basement projects up to around $10m typically. 

AA- Team sizes between 40-100 devs typically. Budgets range from $10-50m typically.

AAA- Team sizes can vary widely, for instance Skyrim was made with 100 devs, one of the smallest AAA dev teams in recent years, while others, like Ubisoft, have been known to have over 1000 total devs work on a game at some point during it's development (with core teams over 400 devs). Recent known AAA budgets have ranged from $50m (LA Noire in 2011) to $265m (GTA V in 2013). Some other known game budgets for recent games that fall into that range: Darksiders 2 ($50m), Gears of War Judgement ($60m), Ghost Recon Future Soldier ($65m), Crysis 3 ($66m), Watch Dogs ($68m), Fable Legends ($76m before it was cancelled), MGS V ($80m), Witcher 3 ($81m), Skyrim ($92m), Halo 4 ($100m), Red Dead Redemption ($100m), Battlefield 4 ($100m), Tomb Raider 2013 ($104m), Max Payne 3 ($105m), Destiny ($140m).

Last edited by shikamaru317 - on 30 July 2018

AAA has everything to do with production value, budget and marketing. But is has no bearing on quality. Plenty of expensive movies with costly effects and highly paid cast are also shit. Most AAA games are mediocre, some are great, some are crap, same as other ranges of games and gaming regardless of budgets, size of the dev team and cost of marketing, not to mention regardless of actual software sales.

I'm reminded a little bit of the age old discussion in here whether or not high sales = high quality, this is something quite different, but the OP's viewpoint seems to about as misguided, in my humble opinion. As for the distinction between A, AA and AAA, I have no idea, but on the surface it's usually really easy to tell an A title apart from an AAA, at the very least.



End of 2016 hardware sales:

Wii U: 15 million. PS4: 54 million. One: 30 million. 3DS: 64.8 million. PSVita: 15.2 million.