What exactly is the measurement you guys define AAA. For me it takes more than just someone opening a studio saying its AAA. They actually have to release a product along the lines of a AAA IP and you really cannot short the process if you do not have enough staff to develop the product.
While I tend to agree with you that a studio is not truly AAA until they ship their first AAA game, all of the studios I listed are headed by AAA veterans with AAA vets in department lead positions, and are being advertised as AAA in their recruitment drives for new hires. That typically means they intend to grow to AAA size before their first game ships (100+ devs) and have AAA budgets (usually over $30m per game in today's industry). Some of the ones I listed already have investments necessary to make a AAA game, for instance That's No Moon already received a $100m investment from Smilegate for their recruitment drive and budget for their first game. Jar of Sparks has NetEase financial backing. Cloud Chamber, 31st Union, Ridgeline Games, Haven Studios, Smilegate Barcelona, Lightspeed LA, Atomic Arcade, Skeleton Key, and the unnamed new EA AAA studio headed by the former Monolith head are all owned by publishers and therefore have AAA funding on their first games. Fool's Theory has a AAA budget from CD Projekt for Witcher 1 remake. SkyDance New Media got a $400m investment in 2022 and has a Marvel AAA budget for their first game.Last edited by shikamaru317 - on 27 March 2023