You may have heard the term AAA or Triple-A video games. These are big budget titles for which you see TV commercials. Here’s what they are and how they shape the video game industry.
Successful movies, but for games
You’ve probably watched a blockbuster movie. Blockbusters usually have big budgets, production teams of thousands, renowned actors and recognizable film studios that produce them. Additionally, they tend to make tons of money, with more and more movies crossing the billion dollar mark each year. AAA (or Triple-A) video games are for the gaming world what blockbusters are for the film industry.
Like blockbusters, they usually involve huge teams working for months or years to make a finished product, used by a large studio. This is normally followed by a large marketing campaign with advertisements appearing everywhere, as well as a long pre-order so that people can get the game as soon as it is released. These games are then distributed by a large well-known publisher, such as Nintendo, Sony, Activision or Electronic Arts.
Many Triple-A titles are also part of popular franchises. Just like the way a studio like Disney or Warner Bros. creates movies with their important properties every year, there are game series that release titles every few years or even every year. Call of Duty, Battlefield, Mario and FIFA are all series with new regular payments that frequently break their own sales records.
Triple-A games and other games
CD Projekt Red
So how do you know if a game counts as Triple-A? Without even knowing the game studio, the first identifier is its launch price. Nowadays, a standard major security is sold both digitally and physically at $ 60 when it is launched in the United States, this amount varying according to regions and countries. While this price will likely drop over time due to sales and bundles, almost all major versions start at this amount. That doesn’t even include things like a season pass or DLC on launch day, which can increase its price upon purchase.
Next is the scale of the game. While there are undoubtedly many ambitious and expansive non-AAA titles, the limited budget often becomes a hindering factor for small games. Many Triple-A games such as Red Dead Redemption, The Witcher and Grand Theft Auto have thousands of hours of content and open cards that focus on exploration. They also often have limits graphic quality and animation.
Another visible indicator is the size of the team. If a game’s credits have thousands of people and several game companies working on it, it’s most likely a major studio release. Due to the scale and intensity, game publishers often outsource aspects of the game, such as 3D animation, modeling, sound design, and online connectivity to third-party contractors.
On the other side of the coin are independent games, colloquially known as independent games, which are independently funded and produced by small teams. Some famous indie games, such as Minecraft and Stardew Valley, were created almost entirely by one person. They are generally shorter, less greedy in graphics and their price is much lower than Triple-A titles, many of them being sold between $ 10 and $ 40. Many of them also don’t have a physical version, opting for pure digital distribution.
A subset of these games, known as titles III or Triple-I, are large-scale productions with expansive concepts made by an independent studio. Games like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, No Man’s Sky and The Witness are all high quality titles developed by independent game studios.
What are Triple-A Plus games?
In recent years, game journalists have also coined the term AAA + or Triple-A plus. These are titles with particularly large budgets which are sold at a high price and which often have additional monetization in the game. Examples of these include season passes, DLC and microtransactions.
Annual gaming franchises, such as FIFA and Call of Duty, are often explicitly designed to incorporate additional purchases. Call of Duty comes with a season pass that players must purchase to play new campaigns that are distributed throughout the year.
FIFA, on the other hand, has a microtransaction system where you can open loot boxes to unlock different versions of soccer players to form a team. They recently announced that they have generated over $ 1 billion in total microtransaction revenue.
The future of the game
As the gaming community continues to grow, so does the gaming industry. More and more major franchise games are released every year, and while many of them are great, there are some reasons to worry. These include the ubiquity of additional monetization of already expensive games, as well as the tendency of studios to release very similar games each year.
Fortunately, independent game companies are also growing. The most popular game in the world, Minecraft, was created by a small game studio created by one person. The ubiquity of digital downloads and the rise of platforms like Steam and GOG have made affordable headlines more accessible than ever.