Gaming has been one of the most popular industries in recent years. It has had huge growth ever since 2012 and the pandemic just helped it grow even more. Games have also seen continual development over the years.
Pong was the first-ever game to receive universal acclaim. It had very simple graphics only composed of two moving lines, one for each player to control, and a ball that gets passed over from player to player. This is where it all started, a simple arcade game that was similar to tennis paved the way for modern gaming.
Today we play games on a ton of various devices, from mobile phones, consoles, and computers, games can be found almost everywhere. Most people use it as a form of entertainment and to relax, while others have even made careers by playing games.
Not all games are created equal though, the process of creating games can take months, some even years of developing. Some games can sometimes cost millions of dollars to create and develop, hundreds of people working on a single game for years, countless hours poured by a company to create a stunning and beautiful game for people to enjoy. This is what we know today as Triple-A Games or AAA games.
What is Considered a Triple-A (AAA) Video Game?
Triple-A games are those games that offer great graphics, great gameplay, good stories, and just overall great production that are developed by large and well-known publishers with huge production budgets. They are simply games that have huge production and marketing budgets that tend to be great games that make a lot of money.
The simplest comparison is blockbuster movies, these are movies that cost millions of dollars to create, feature well-known actors, have great CGI, and are produced by big film studios. AAA games are essentially the blockbuster films of the gaming world.
Due to the big marketing budgets of AAA games, you can usually find various commercials and advertisements for these games, from billboards, YouTube videos dedicated to the games, TV commercials, various promotions and partnerships, and basically anything that they can put the game’s name on.
They do aggressive marketing in order to build up hype for the game and encourage people to buy the game once it is released. Some people even opt to pre-order the game, purchasing the game months, sometimes years ahead of its release date just so they are one of the first people to get the game. Developers usually include some bonus freebies to people who pre-order the game though, such as various game merchandise or some in-game items.
Just take a look at Cyberpunk 2077, which was originally set to be released in September 2020, (though it has recently been pushed back to Dec 2020) but the game was already available for pre-order on gog.com, Steam, and other sites as early as June of 2019. People were already purchasing a game that isn’t going to be available for more than a year, that’s the power of triple A games.
Where Did Triple A Games Start?
“Triple A games” or “AAA games” has been a term that has been used for decades now. It is used to classify games that are produced and developed by major publishers that usually have a big budget size and receive significant marketing.
The term “AAA” was first used by companies at gaming conventions in the late 1990s. One of the first triple-A video games to ever be created is Final Fantasy VII for the original PlayStation console. The game had a huge production budget of around $40-45 million making it the most expensive game produced at that time. It was also highly marketed and various commercials were aired on TV. It was estimated that the total costs for the production and marketing of the game were around $80-145 million, which was abnormally large at that time for a video game.
Thankfully, the game had huge success because of its one-of-a-kind graphics, matched with great music, and its unique blend of story and gameplay. Final Fantasy VII received highly positive reviews and sold 11 million copies worldwide.
Final Fantasy VII is considered as one of the most influential games of all time, it paved the way for modern role-playing games, it showed that the story is just as important as the graphics, and started the triple-a game industry.
Where Can You Play Triple A Games?
Triple-A games are produced for consoles and PC due to them being the only platforms powerful enough to run the graphics that these games are developed with. Though some Triple-A video games do get a ported version for mobile phones just like Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto line, it takes the game years before it reaches mobile devices.
Most triple-A games are developed and released for all consoles and PC. However, some games are exclusive to specific platforms. Some examples of this are God of War for Sony’s PlayStation, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Nintendo Switch, and Forza Horizon for Xbox.
Developers try to include as many platforms as they can so that they can easily reach a wider audience and earn back the millions that they used to fund the game.
How much are Triple A Games?
Developers make use of different tactics in order to gain profits from the games they create. Some games are free-to-play and developers sell some type of in-game items such as skins and other cosmetics to gain profits. A good example of this is Fortnite Battle Royale, the game was free-to-play and download, helping it become one of the most popular games in recent years.
Even though the game was free they sold tons of various cosmetics that you can buy using real money that allowed them to earn a reportedly huge $3 billion in profits for 2018.
Not all developers can do this though since Fortnite’s success is definitely hard to replicate. You can probably buy most games for a few dollars, especially during sales. However, the price for triple A games has been increasing throughout the years, before you could buy games for like $15-30 but nowadays, they usually go for around $60, until they are old enough to go on sale where you could get them for a little bit cheaper.
On top of that initial $60 you paid to play the game, some developers even charge you for the DLCs that they release throughout the updates. DLCs or downloadable content are usually updates that add new maps, storylines, items, points of interest, and characters to the game. It brings new features that help with player retention and can help attract new players as well.
DLCs can sometimes be free though there are some developers that charge you for the extra content as well. This has been one of the major outcries by the gaming community, people argue that they shouldn’t have to pay for extra content if they already paid for the game itself.
Depending on the pricing of DLCs, some games can cost as much as $100 or more, so make sure to get your wallet ready when trying out those triple A games.
How Long Does It Take to Develop a Triple-A Game?
How long a game takes to develop will vary from game to game and mostly depends on how much content the game comes with. Remember the hit 2014 mobile game Flappy Bird? It was reported that the game was made in only 2-3 days. It was probably due to the fact that there wasn’t much in the game aside from the bird itself and a few pipes.
The average time it takes to create a very casual and simple game is around 2-6 months. This is for the games that have a decent budget and a decently sized team working on it as well. These games are usually short games that have relatively good graphics. They are usually either free games or are very cheap since they didn’t cost that much to develop.
Triple-A games, on the other hand, are developed on average around 18-36 months. Some even take years before they get released into the market. An example is GTA V, it’s development started once GTA IV was released back in 2008 and took 5 years to fully develop and get released. It got released in 2013 but millions are still playing the game up to this day and is still one of the top sellers during various online game sales.
Another example is Far Cry 6 which was announced in July 2020 but has already been in development for 4 years at the time of the announcement and is planned to be released in February 2021, if it does not get pushed back. Let’s not forget Cyberpunk 2077, a game notorious for being delayed. We got our first glance at Cyberpunk 2077 back in 2013, and it’s finally coming out in Dec 2020(Hopefully). Only God knows how long before 2013 the game has been in development.
These huge studios have hundreds if not thousands of people working on the game and it still takes years. This just shows how much work is put into a single triple A game and why people love them so much.
What is the Difference Between Triple A Games and Other Games?
The main difference between triple-A games and other games are obviously their studios or publishers. Big and well-known publishers like Sony, Activision, Electronic Arts, Rockstar Games, CD Projekt Red, and Bethesda are some of the biggest names when it comes to the gaming industry. These companies gave us great games such as the Fallout and GTA franchise. If you see these companies as the publisher of a game, chances are that it is a AAA game.
You can also use the games themselves to find out if they are AAA games. The scale and expansiveness of the game alone can tell you a lot. Most triple-A video games are very expansive and feature hundreds if not thousands of hours’ worth of gameplay. A good example is Skyrim. It was released way back in 2011, it had a huge open-world map that you could explore, with hundreds of side quests to keep you busy for months. Up to this day, there are still people out there who enjoy playing the game.
Next is obviously the quality of the graphics. Most AAA games will have excellent if not outstanding graphics that can leave you breathless. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is a prime example of this, it has one of the best in-game sites for you to see, the story is also historically-based so there are some locations in the game that you can see in real life.
In general, triple-A games are just more polished and allows you to do so much more than other games.
What are The Other Types of AAA Games?
A term that has been used lately is “triple A plus.” This is used to describe games that have extremely large budgets and are sold at premium prices. They also often have various in-game items available for purchase, like cosmetics, seasonal passes, and microtransactions. They are essentially just the AAA games that have other revenue sources aside from people purchasing the game.
Recently, there have been other games that cannot be categorized as triple-A games since they are developed by smaller and independent studios but provide the same expansiveness and graphical quality as triple-A games. These games are known as “III games” or “triple I games.” These games are from independent studios or “indie studios” that don’t have massive budgets but deliver great games. An example of a recent III game is No Man’s Sky. It was a great looking game with a large open-world map that featured space exploration, its content was a little lackluster at first but after a few content updates, the game has been excellent.
The rise of indie games and III games has been ongoing for a while now and there’s no telling how big the industry will get in the future.
The final type is AAAA games or quadruple A. This is used to describe the games that are being developed for the newest generation of consoles, the PS5 and Xbox Series X. The exact definition and boundaries of AAAA games are still unclear so we will have to wait and see what these games will bring us.