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Trapper Zoid

What exactly is a AAA title game?

8 posts in this topic

This might seem like a silly question, but I realised when I stumbled across the term in another thread that I've never really known exactly what is meant by a game that is a "AAA title". Apart from games, I've encounted the triple-A term in credit ratings and marketing speak, but I'm not sure whether it applies here. Does "AAA" just mean a game is truly excellent? Or does it mean it's got a premium budget? Or both? And does that mean there are single-A title games, B titles and C titles? Or is it just a figure of marketing speech?
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IMO it's just lingo for a big budget commercial game.
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Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
Does "AAA" just mean a game is truly excellent? Or does it mean it's got a premium budget? Or both? And does that mean there are single-A title games, B titles and C titles? Or is it just a figure of marketing speech?

Depends who you speak to really. The gaming press tend to use AAA to mean a really high quality game. Marketing droids will use it to refer solely to the advertising budget (ie. the actual quality of the game is irrelevant). Producers I've spoken to will use it to mean both (ie. is high quality and has a big marketing budget).
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I've worked on a few supposed "AAA" games, and not for one instant would I believe it means quality. I've played far higher-quality games that didn't have that label, regardless of genre differences.

The press and marketing wants you to believe it means quality, and they're succeeding quite well. In reality it just means budget and production values, how much "manpower" went in it and how marketable it is.

The gaming press is kind of broken at the moment IMO. 7/10 is often considered "mediocre" while so many games are getting 9+/10, games that are buggy, broken, too short and have little replayability.
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My first producer told me it simply meant, "Has sold, or is predicted/targetted to sell, over one million copies."
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Original post by cloudscapes
I've worked on a few supposed "AAA" games, and not for one instant would I believe it means quality. I've played far higher-quality games that didn't have that label, regardless of genre differences.

The press and marketing wants you to believe it means quality, and they're succeeding quite well. In reality it just means budget and production values, how much "manpower" went in it and how marketable it is.

The gaming press is kind of broken at the moment IMO. 7/10 is often considered "mediocre" while so many games are getting 9+/10, games that are buggy, broken, too short and have little replayability.


Thats because they often look superb.
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Original post by superpig
My first producer told me it simply meant, "Has sold, or is predicted/targetted to sell, over one million copies."

That's a good measurable metric. It'd make "AAA" the equivalent of going platinum in the record industry. The metal system wouldn't translate very well to games, where "going gold" usually means you haven't sold anything yet [wink]

To take an example to debate over: would RollerCoaster Tycoon be a AAA game? It's sold several metric shirtloads of copies, but although it is a good game the production values are very spartan.

The converse would be a massive budget blockbuster title that completely flops in the marketplace - would this hypothetical game be AAA until launch, then lose AAA status?

And do people use other terms to distinguish games that aren't AAA (like A, B, C)? I haven't heard them as often.

(I'm probably putting too much thought into this...)
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Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
To take an example to debate over: would RollerCoaster Tycoon be a AAA game? It's sold several metric shirtloads of copies, but although it is a good game the production values are very spartan.


In retrospect, I'd probably call Roller Coaster Tycoon a AAA game. But when the game was in development and right after it was released, I don't think anybody predicted it would be so successful because, as you say, it just didn't have high production values.

So, basically, I think the status of a game as AAA or not can change over time within certain constraints. Any game that was initially called AAA while in development will remain so, but any game that has unexpected success and sells extremely well can earn the title as well.

Another example might be Myst. I'd definitely call that a AAA title, yet it was just made by two brothers in their basement, and its success was completely unexpected by pretty much everyone at the time.

So overall I suppose the term AAA just tries to capture how well the public knows about the title. Either the game gathers a lot of attention initially because of extremely high production values (like Crysis, for example), or it gains a lot of attention after release just because it's such a good game, with or without production values. Because many games acquire the title simply from having state of the art graphics--thereby gathering much pre-release press coverage and hype--the term AAA cannot be a metric concerned primarily with gameplay quality.
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