So who are the AAA companies anyhow?

sXeth

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Since the usual BOYCOTT ALL THE EVIL AAA GAMES chat is in vogue right now. I mean, there's the usual listed ones.

Activison/Blizzard, EA, Square Enix, TakeTwo (more commonly referenced as subsidiaries 2k and Rockstar), Ubisoft

The acknowledged, but not usually grouped together with the top crowd.

Bandai Namco, Capcom, CDPR, Konami, Microsoft, Nintendo, SEGA, Sony, Valve, WBGames, Zenimax.

Some of those do have a definite distinction of being large studios, but not publishers of other studios things or franchise collectors (in the sense of buying up other IPs, not in the sense of sitting on their own).

Then there's the fringe crowd where you Devolver, THQ Nordic and a few others. The ones that put out the 40-50 games with that relatively recent AA labelling. Which has been quietly sneaking up from the relative standard 15-20 that indie titles used to run. Deep Silver who run AAA pricing but would generally not be regarded to the same standards. Weird leftover presences like Atari SA.
 

Silentpony_v1legacy

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...gearbox?

Like I don't know whats the question - you listed a bunch of them.

My take is a game has to be 100% complete on launch, with a full single player, no microtransactions, and day-1 DLC that isn't available in Collector editions for me to buy in on launch.

AAA be damned or praised, if its good, its good. Doom was good. Battlefront 2 is not. TitanFall 2 is not. Bloodborne was(ish...)
 

Tanis

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Does it really matter?

If a game is good...a game is good.

Caring if they're AAA or AA or A or Indie or whatever is hipster bullshit.
 

Canadamus Prime

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Honestly I don't know what defines a "AAA" game other than it being developed/published by one of the big names and having and extremely bloated budget.
My personal boycott list includes EA, Activision, WB Interactive, and Ubisoft.
Big names that I'm still willing to buy from (or would be if I could afford it) include Nintendo, Sega, Capcom, Bethseda (although they were pushing it with that paid mod BS), CDPR... and that's all I can think of right now
 

sXeth

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Silentpony said:
...gearbox?

Like I don't know whats the question - you listed a bunch of them.

My take is a game has to be 100% complete on launch, with a full single player, no microtransactions, and day-1 DLC that isn't available in Collector editions for me to buy in on launch.

AAA be damned or praised, if its good, its good. Doom was good. Battlefront 2 is not. TitanFall 2 is not. Bloodborne was(ish...)
Gearbox has jumped through EA and Sega, but seems prettymuch to be under TakeTwo-2k now.

Tanis said:
Does it really matter?

If a game is good...a game is good.

Caring if they're AAA or AA or A or Indie or whatever is hipster bullshit.
That's prettymuch the point I was making. Just leaving the door open for anyone who wanted to put together some distinction.
 

sanquin

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I guess what is and isn't an AAA company is hard to define. I personally don't boycott any company though. Just bad 'features'. Like lootboxes, microtransactions, terrible DRM, and stuff like that. I've only ever bought lootboxes for Overwatch. And only once. 10 dollars worth. Which even paid off for me as I got 3 skins for the halloween event, all of which I liked and 2 of which were for characters I played. I've never bought any microtransactions, and stayed clear of games where any of the bad practices got too bad in my book. (which is almost all of them these days.)
 

FalloutJack

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I think the definition is not nearly as relevent as the evidence of bad practices. See a bad practice in a game, shake your head and walk away. It's desperate for attention that it doesn't deserve. Just go buy something less gimicky and more fun.
 

Strazdas

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There are no AAA companies. AAA is a term adapted for games that originally meant the game was exceptionally good at Story, Gameplay and Graphics, thus recieving an A rating in all 3 categories. Since such games were always big budget games, it became a term associated with large budget games, but as we know this is evidently not so (Witcher 3 wasnt a large budget game but was an AAA game). So what defines a game as AAA is up for discussion, but there is nothing to even begin defining a company as AAA.

Actually, there is one AAA comapny, its called American Automobile Assciation. Not relevant to gaming though.
 

Canadamus Prime

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I think I've figured it out. A "AAA Game" is a game with a budget that could feed a small country for a year and presumably a development team the size of a small town. Neither of which are necessary to make a good game.
The "AAA companies" are the companies that can afford the budgets that can feed a small country for a year and put together development teams the size of small towns.
 

Hawki

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CannibalCorpses said:
Surely Duracell wins that battle? ;)
I'd make a joke about Energizer, but to be honest, I always liked the Duracell bunny more.
 

Kyrian007

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I generally count any publisher who bought a developer, had them put out a game or two, then broke up the dev and destroyed it. I began my personal dislike of AAA developers back in 2009 and 2010 when EA killed Pandemic. That's the last year I ever purchased an EA title at full price.

And that's my thing. Dishonest practices, predatory sales, any of the AAA junk... I just refuse to buy at full price from then on. Actually, first warning is won't buy on release day. Currently all major game publishers are on my "not on release day" list. How does a company get off the list or move in a positive direction? Huh... I'm not sure. It hasn't happened yet. Maybe going bankrupt, out of business. That might do it.
 

sXeth

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CannibalCorpses said:
Surely Duracell wins that battle? ;)
Oh don't get me started on the nonsense of battery categories. Especially since they started sticking numbers of the end while everything that uses them still says AA not AA4 or AA6, etc.

Kyrian007 said:
I generally count any publisher who bought a developer, had them put out a game or two, then broke up the dev and destroyed it. I began my personal dislike of AAA developers back in 2009 and 2010 when EA killed Pandemic. That's the last year I ever purchased an EA title at full price.

And that's my thing. Dishonest practices, predatory sales, any of the AAA junk... I just refuse to buy at full price from then on. Actually, first warning is won't buy on release day. Currently all major game publishers are on my "not on release day" list. How does a company get off the list or move in a positive direction? Huh... I'm not sure. It hasn't happened yet. Maybe going bankrupt, out of business. That might do it.
That's certainly EA's ouevre (although a bit murkier in the 90s, when half the people they destroyed they literally saved out of bankruptcy first, and most of them have later gone on to catastrophic failures every time they've done something since).

Activizzard would have a similar brush, since they've taken previoulsy succesful studios like Raven and turned into assembly lines for the next CoD. They don't shut them down so much as consolidate them (similar to the mess of leftovers merged into what is currently Bioware under EA). Funnily enough, Activision was the one that kept getting bought up in their case. The two or three companies kept the name and Kotick became the CEO after Vivendi bought them, but the developer Activision was essentially itself wiped out.

Now, as tp major publishers, what of Take Two (incredibly bad AAA practices) and Ubisoft (Generally less, though not clean.) who also publish various lower tiered or even acclaimed stuff.
 

aaron_mark

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I don't know about you guys but to me, indie/small studio game developers are the best. I've played lots of indie games that are way way better than games coming from EA/Ubisoft/etc etc. Here are a few titles: Styx (Cyanide Studio), Grey Goo (Petroglyph), King's Quest (The Odd Gentlemen), The Raven (KING Art), The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (The Astronauts), Soma (Frictional Games), Amnesia (Frictional Games), etc etc.
 

C14N

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To me, it has nothing to do with the quality of the games. Maybe it used to at one point, but I've been following gaming as an industry since about 2005 and at least that far back, it wasn't referencing quality. It also certainly doesn't refer to making money in crappy ways with stuff like micro-transactions and pay-to-win game systems, or doing shitty things like churning out uninspired franchise sequels or shutting down formerly-good studios.

I would say AAA applies to publishers rather than developers, although I'd also use it to describe a game. A AAA game is the gaming equivalent of a tentpole film. Usually these days, some kind of blockbuster with a large budget, at least a 3-digit development staff, and made to appeal to a mainstream enough audience that it will be expected to sell at least a few million copies. It's a game that has 3D graphics (and environments, with the exception of fighting games), is released at retail on at least one of PS4, XBO, Switch or PC, and generally, it costs at least $55 at retail and often has some kind of marketing campaign. That's just a rule of thumb though, you might not meet all of those and still be AAA or vice versa. You also expect that it has quite a bit of content, and by that I don't mean "play time". I mean stuff like a lot of original music, voice acting, textures, assets, environments etc. The game might not be that long, but there would be a lot of stuff packed into it. What qualifies as AAA also changes with time. Something that might once have been seen as AAA would possibly not be considered it if it were released today.

A AAA publisher is one who publishes these kinds of games. They might publish smaller games too, but that's irrelevant. All of the studios in the first and second tier that you listed are absolutely AAA. CD Projekt is something of an anomaly in that they only have 1 development studio that they publish for, but the games they've published have all been AAA so so are they. Devolver is not AAA, because they never publish games like that, they focus on publishing lots of smaller games.
 

gsilver

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At this point, I think that AAA should only be used to describe the kind of shady monetization practices that have become all too common recently.

A $60 "buy once" game? That's a game.
A $60 game with a $20-$30 season pass? That's at least one "A" there.
A $60 game with a $20-$30 season pass and triple-digit "microtransactions" Now that's Triple-A (conjure up the most sneering Jim Sterling impression that you can think of).

Each "A" stands for asshole.