The video game industry, and the landscape of AAA games, have experienced significant changes in the past few years.
AAA titles, companies and developers now have much to consider in regards to creating innovative titles that will stand the test of time and won't fall trap to people who will prefer to head in other directions.
The tide may be shifting though, as indie games and other gaming formats are starting to make a strong case for their share of the competitive gaming market.
However, some argue that AAA games are on their way out, but is that really the case? Will triple a games be doomed for the future, or will people continue to power up their Xbox consoles and Nintendo switch and stay with their old favourite video games as updates continue around the corner?
Let's take a peek.
Before we delve into the current state and future of AAA game titles, let's first define what it means.
In the video game industry, high-profile, high-budget games are categorised as "AAA Games" and are often created and released by well-known, sizable publishers, such as Naughty Dog and Rockstar.
Titles typically have a long development cycle, involve a large team of developers, and have high marketing budgets.
Due to their enormous popularity, these games frequently qualify as "blockbusters." Several are a part of popular series, with new games expanding on the reputation of earlier ones.
Triple-A games, due to the enormous scale of the project, from the stunning graphics to the multiplayer modes, require a large team of developers, including game designers, programmers, artists, and writers.
According to a report by GameSpot, the average size of a AAA game development team is around 100 people, but this number can vary significantly, depending on the size and scope of the video game.
Some of the renowned favourite video games in the AAA canon, such as Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 (both developed by Rockstar), had teams of over 1,000 people.
While AAA games can generate massive revenue for developers, they also come with significant risks and challenges.
The development costs of AAA games have risen significantly in recent years, and the return on investment is not guaranteed. Game development is a highly competitive industry, and there is no guarantee that a AAA title will be successful in the market.
This has developed a trend of replicating earlier games created by a certain developer in the hope that a new AAA title can reinvigorate the past glory of previous games (series such as monster hunter world and god of war are such examples)
Another disadvantage of developing AAA games is the long development cycle. It can take several years to develop a AAA title, which can result in burnout and high turnover rates for developers.
On average, the best aaa games would command a team of around 150-250 developers working a full-time schedule for 2-3 years to fully create a triple a title ready to play on the market.
AAA games typically require a significant marketing budget to build hype and generate sales, which can add to the overall cost of development. Whilst some large or popular game studios have the financial means of developing AAA titles, the success of the games depends heavily on early traction from the market.
The development cycle of AAA games can vary significantly depending on the scope of the project and the size of the development team.
Some games, such as Cyberpunk 2077, can take over eight years to develop, while others, such as Call of Duty (famous for Modern Warfare and Black Ops), have a game released every year.
On average, AAA games take around three to five years to develop, but this number can vary significantly. The development time can also be impacted by various factors, such as changes in technology, delays, and development challenges.
Here are some examples of famous, top aaa games and the time it took for the development of such titles.
With the rapid pace of technological advancement and the growing competition in the gaming industry, it's easy to wonder if we've already seen the best AAA games.
However, there is still plenty of room for innovation and improvement in the gaming industry, and we are likely to see many more incredible AAA titles in the future.
Some of the most popular AAA games in recent years have been open-world games, such as Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption 2, and The Witcher 3.
These games have set a new standard for immersive gameplay, storytelling, and graphics.
However, there is still plenty of room for innovation in this genre, such as the integration of procedural generation, more advanced artificial intelligence, and new gameplay mechanics.
Another area where we are likely to see innovation is in the use of cloud gaming. Cloud gaming allows players to stream games directly to their devices without needing a powerful gaming PC or console.
This technology has the potential to make gaming more accessible and could lead to the development of new types of games that take advantage of this technology.
We are seeing an increasing number of games that incorporate social elements and online multiplayer features. These games provide players with new ways to connect and collaborate, creating entirely new gameplay experiences.
Games like Fortnite and Apex Legends have become global phenomena, bringing millions of players together to battle it out in real-time.
Finally, we are likely to see continued growth in the mobile gaming market, which has already surpassed the console and PC gaming markets in terms of revenue.
Mobile games offer developers a new way to reach audiences, and we are seeing an increasing number of high-quality, AAA mobile titles.
Whilst there are challenges and risks associated with developing AAA games, they are not on their way out. There is still plenty of room for innovation and improvement in the gaming industry, and we will likely see many more incredible AAA titles in the future.
Whether it's through new technologies like VR and cloud gaming, innovative gameplay mechanics, or social features, the gaming industry is constantly evolving. There is no doubt that we will continue to see groundbreaking and innovative AAA games for years to come.
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Noah Adams has a Masters in journalism from the university of Canterbury. He has held job positions in various media companies in New Zealand such as Bauer Media Group, The New Zealand Herald and TVNZ. Noah has for the past yea... Read more about the author