What are AAA games and why Minecraft is an AAA project (Topic)

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What are AAA games and why Minecraft is an AAA project


As Plato said, I know I know nothing. This unbreakable aphorism also works in the games industry. And although we hear from everywhere phrases like: "Studio X is releasing a new AAA project" or "GTA 5 was the largest AAA game", many are wondering what AAA games are. And you know what? Even if you are one of those who understand this abbreviation, most likely in the modern realities of gaming, as it is now, you actually do not understand it correctly. I know I don't know anything ... Let's fix that by figuring out what's wrong with this three-letter word.


In simple terms, an AAA game is a large-budget project in which a lot of money is thrown in. To decode literally: A lot of Time, A lot of Reassures, A lot of money.

Before, everything was much simpler and games were classified differently: A, B and C. In the late 80s, everything changed and games began the path to becoming an industry in which more money was invested every year and the old the classification is outdated. Today the term can be applied to any game, as games are long, difficult and expensive to make. There are no A games or AA games, only AAA. It is an unbreakable formula that does not allow for mutual exclusion.


That is why when it is suggested to use the term "class B games", as for example, with films of category B, that is, second-class, it is inappropriate. A good movie can be made without money, resources, or time, and good games cannot [I'm not counting the crooked crafts from the bottom of Steam]. After all, each game requires a lot, the same Stardew valley took its creator 5 years. And he worked alone.

At the same time, we all see that more resources, time and money are invested in some games than in others, and we understand that the less money, the more it is not AAA. "What in this case, genius?" - you ask.

The antipode of AAA is indie. That is, everything that is not AAA is indie. Indie means independent and often refers to a wide range of media that are produced in one way or another independently of the publisher or producer. That is, if a project does not have a continuous flow of money, it becomes an indie game. This was the case before.

Play Turkey

Now, in addition to the cash equivalent, everything also depends on the staff. If more than 15 people are working on a game, it is no longer indie. And the number 15 is pretty approximate.


A striking example of such a studio is Ninja Theory. They have been positioning themselves as an indie studio for many years. And in 2017, they released Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, which is considered an indie, but in its quality it looks like an AAA project. That being said, Ninja Theory released Devil May Cry and Heavenly Sword and they are AAA. And although the first project is on par with the others in everything, the difference is that the latter had publishers, thanks to which the games were larger and sold with great success [not without PR efforts]. It's all about money.


It turns out that the main difference is whether money is poured into the project or not. But on the other hand, we have Devolver Digital, whose policy is to help indie studios publish their projects without depriving them of this label.

Other major publishers don't work that way. If, for example, EA or Sony want to publish a game from a small studio, they will try to bring it to a more prestigious title. And besides, it just comes out by itself.

Think of Minecraft, for example. It was created by one person, Marcus Preston, and it was indie. Then Microsoft bought it for fabulous money, began pouring huge resources into it, spending them on promotion and advertising, creating spin-offs in the universe. Thus Minecraft became an AAA game, as paradoxical as it may sound.


But don't forget about games that are developed independently, but through crowdfunding, as was the case with Pillars of Eternity.

All this leads us to an equally confusing conclusion - today it is even more difficult to distinguish which game is indie and which is not than with AAA. But we can say with confidence that the rule "what is not AAA is indie and vice versa" does not work anymore.

How much more do you need?

It's funny, but we still come to the conclusion that it is not clear what requirements an AAA game must meet. Logically - large-scale, well-developed, expensive and high-quality, capable of delaying 30+. But remembering, for example, Anthem and Fallout 76, which are just AAA projects with a price of $ 60, they clearly do not live up to their rank.

I think the best example of AAA games will be CD Project Red's projects - huge complex games that cost hundreds of man-hours and millions of dollars. Consider this a landmark. The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is the perfect example of how a triple A game should be. And Cyberpunk 2077 is expected to be the same.


I think that today the level of triple A can be called a game from which we expect a lot. As for me, this is the key to this issue. I want to open my trump card to you: the AAA level is not a ceiling. On the contrary, it is becoming more and more a thing of the past.

Today the big-budget triple A games are those that promise to bring more and more every time, and they need even more A in their abbreviation for that. The industry, which is growing in popularity by progression, is developing, stepping over the AAA, as through a rung that is only the middle of this ladder.


This is how AAA + games appear. For example, when, after the release, the project continues to be supported by introducing additional. content, multiplayer or shop with transactions.

These are the games that make it onto the covers of magazines and websites, and will ensure page traffic or print sales. The project that proudly declares its peculiarity.

Of course they can speculate on this, but the more A in the equation, the larger and louder it will be.

The family has ...

So, what to do with games, the budget and capabilities of which are less than the devil knows how many A games, but more than the indie studio. Such projects are used to calling second-tier games. But they are also difficult to identify.

The problem is that with the enlargement of the main market players, the middle layer of games that cannot stand out in any way is dying.


So what do we end up with? And the fact that it is very difficult to classify any games and often it all depends on the numbers in their budget and audience. Now, when naming your project indie, AAA or AAA +, it is worth looking at what exactly is put into the name.

If this is Cyberpunk 2077 - then it is AAA +, which means that we are waiting for a revolutionary game that the whole world will play.

If this is The Outer Words - then this is AAA with a smaller budget, which does not strive for revolution, but to please everyone who has heard about Obsidian games with a good project.

If this is Afterparty , then this is an indie aimed at amateurs and targeting a specific audience.


The Topic of Article: What are AAA games and why Minecraft is an AAA project.
Author: Jake Pinkman