What does 'AAA' mean for games?

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What does 'AAA' mean for games?

Postposted on Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:06 pm

Geoff Gasior wrote:And that's with the benefit of more than three times the number of compatible games, including AAA releases like Civilization V, Borderlands 2, and Left 4 Dead 2.



What defines a game as being 'AAA'? I take it to be part of a scale as in Baseball, where you have the Major Leagues (The Big Time -- big players, big money, big fame) and then you have the semi-professional farm clubs, the highest of which being AAA, where the players are good but not necessarily up to ML standards. That's why it surprises me that Geoff refers to Civ5 as a 'AAA release'. Isn't Civilization one of the oldest and greatest game series, and Sid Meier one of the most respected game developers? How can Civ5 be considered anything but one of the biggest-time games on the market?
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Re: What does 'AAA' mean for games?

Postposted on Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:13 pm

"AAA" games are the big budget blockbusters that the big houses try to publish.

Indie games generally refer to the small 1-5 person studios who are small in scope..

There is a new term for the old-school developers that are kick-starting various titles. They are bigger and much better funded than indie studios, and sometimes even big budget games, but are generally controlled by devs and are looking to try something different.
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Re: What does 'AAA' mean for games?

Postposted on Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:26 pm

With respect to your baseball analogy, it isn't the greatest of terms. For our purposes, AAA basically means full resources. Lots of cash backs a AAA game to get it polished and to market, normally on a tight schedule. Cash is from major publishers, which is why you see lots of pressure on AAA franchises.

But again, it still isn't a great term because the oposite side of the spectrum is "indie," which means no publisher cash. These games aren't as polished in terms of fancy visuals, and these developers usually resort to alternative means to get cash (like crowdfunding). It can even mean full release of a game in alpha and beta stages (like Minecraft). These games are NOT in a "finished" state when people are playing them.

The result? We're labeling games based on how much is invested in them and not how enjoyable they are (or even how well they sell/are played).
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Re: What does 'AAA' mean for games?

Postposted on Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:33 pm

FireGryphon wrote:What defines a game as being 'AAA'? I take it to be part of a scale as in Baseball, where you have the Major Leagues (The Big Time -- big players, big money, big fame) and then you have the semi-professional farm clubs, the highest of which being AAA, where the players are good but not necessarily up to ML standards. That's why it surprises me that Geoff refers to Civ5 as a 'AAA release'. Isn't Civilization one of the oldest and greatest game series, and Sid Meier one of the most respected game developers? How can Civ5 be considered anything but one of the biggest-time games on the market?


The term 'AAA' in gaming is derived from its level of financing and not its level of craftsmanship or performance. Bond ratings such as S&P and Moody's use AAA (or Aaa in Moody's case, but not Fitch's) to denote the highest level of quality of a bond.

Quality in both of these cases, gaming and finance, referring to the level of confidence in the security of the investment.

The investors are very happy to hear you confuse the Wall Street term 'AAA' with the quality of the gaming experience rather than the likelihood of their assured profits.
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