Gaming industry has come a long way since the introduction of consoles and gaming specific PCs. From being the stuff that usually nerds dug into to practically every person with a mobile, being called a gamer; Gaming has come a long way. The growth of the industry can be seen as a direct result of some (Or many) games out there that made you wanna jump into the virtual world and know what it feels like to be given control of something. Many of the 1990s born will fondly remember diving into games like Dangerous Dave, Roadrash, Mario, probably Duck Hunt (The actual first person shooter game) and any of the other games that came out on the Nintendo consoles. For the 2000s kids will GTA and Assassin’s Creed was their gateway drug.
In those days (and by those days, I mean a year or 2 earlier) a game was judged after it was released and not at some expo by the company during some kind of media event. Or by leaked images. Or through hype created by the media.
Those good ol’ days were a time when people got to play the games without any sort of expectations, many a times we got to play their demos, some days prior to the release of the game and some of them became more recognized than others. Some examples include GTA 3/Vice City, Max Payne, The Legend of Zelda franchise, Unreal Tournament, Half Life and Mario among others. At that time AAA titles were generally referred to as those games which were a blockbuster hit, i.e., they received critical acclaim as well as commercial success. The games which did receive success obviously made the developer financially more fluent. This resulted in an exponential increase in the sheer number of games. This resulted in the birth of what we call AAA games today.
AAA (Pronounced “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.
This is the definition of AAA games according to Google.
AAA games quickly gained traction because initially they were only made by developers who had blockbusters and hence dished out cash on newer titles. More companies with bigger budgets started coming up and started making games and the number of AAA games started increasing. Not that it was bad, but this resulted in some actually good games to go under the radar of many gamers. Big games came with increase in promotion and lots of expenditure on trivial matters. Sometime along the way they started losing their uniqueness.
This sometime was right around the time when Ubisoft, EA and Activision started dominating the market with their Assassins’ Creed, Battlefield and Call of Duties respectively. Many people got to love these franchises and hence their sales increased dramatically. I would be wrong if I would say that those initial games were bad. I myself feel that initially both COD and AC were good, and they had great receptions as well. These companies became the most influential of all in the gaming industry and kept on making games based on tried and tested concepts which removed any kind of creativity which was actually the core ingredient for games back in the day.
Being big companies, they could invest more and hence could theoretically make better games (Because you know, everything can be done by money). They flooded the market with the same games each year with a different name but still sold well. This way the companies got even more financially able and started aiming for more bigger but more useless stuff. Instead of risking making new IPs, they started making small improvements in the games themselves (Call of Duty hasn’t even done that), a pinch worth of graphics increase (Which results in poor performance) and trying to make life like reimaginations of historic places instead of making their own maps.
One of these companies’ most useless expenditure would have been for the promotions. Showing off better version of their incomplete games at media events, making deals with retailers to sell some useless stuff to the gamers, creating lots of hype etc have been a common strategy in the recent years. And let’s not forget the ridiculous CG trailers, because that will be a discussion in itself.
One nasty trend started by the AAA games was the system of Pre-orders. Comapanies knew that people were anticipating their games and hence took the liberty of selling games much before development was complete with a bunch of useless items. Recently another trend that was clearly brought into light by AAA games with Assassins’ Creed Unity and Batman Arkham Knight was the increase in number of bad PC ports. Clearly the big budget does not indicate better games and hence the AAA games lost their definition somewhere along the way.
Call of Duty is still running well but due to Unity and Syndicate the Assassins’ Creed Franchise has hit a speed bump. Other bigger developers like EA are trying to redeem themselves by trying to go creative, as we have seen with the release of Unravel. Of Course studios like Rockstar, Square Enix, CD Projekt Red, Naughty Dog, From Software etc. still make bona-fide AAA games, but this has resulted in the loss of value of the title. Instead of a few games being called King of the Hill, it has become more like Hill of the Kings.
What do you think about the AAA gaming industry? Do you think that developers should focus more on creativity rather than going with the same formula again and again or do you think that you are enjoying this era of gaming? Let us know that and your thoughts on the article for what you desire the gaming industry to be like. Adios.