AAA Blog

I was finishing up the Contains Moderate Murf podcast while driving and for some puzzling reason a thought struck me on how much I dislike the term “AAA game”.

What exactly does that mean? How does the rating work? We rarely hear about ‘A’ games, or ‘C’ games, or even ‘AA’ games (although all of those are battery types). So what does a AAA game constitute? How is that measured? Is it production quality, spend, or marketing budget? How can you have such a universally used designation that has no independent body measuring to ensure it fits the qualification?

AAA Canadian Beef is very clear how it constitutes what fits in each A/AA/AAA category. Even AAA Bond Credit Ratings give an indication on what that means.

Google fu tells me that AAA can be all sorts of abbreviations and the ever vigilant Wikipedia says that AAA as a designation  for video games was created by the private companies themselves. Bonkers, I tell you. That’s like McDonald’s saying they are a AAA restaurant because they said so. Whatever the hell that could mean. Sounds like it’s good though, doesn’t it?

It’s a sham! Fight the Power! I’m taking the Alphabet back in the names of all gamers. All former ‘AAA’ games will now need to be called something new. I am suggesting “Not AAA” for starters, but also open to suggestions.

11 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I prefer terms like “Epic” “Awesome” or “Amazing” for good games. “Shit” works for those that aren’t so good. “Money Grab” is another that works for games that are completely unoriginal/uninspiring.

  2. I see where you are coming from here, but I ultimately disagree. I think the term, as it has evolved, has a definite meaning to it that I still feel is valid.

    To me, a AAA game references not only its budget, but also its marketing and generally indicates that it has the backing of a major publisher. That’s in really stark contrast to an Indie, which obviously has a limited budget, minimal marketing, and typically comes self-published.

    My issue is that this dichotomy leaves a big giant hole where those smaller budget but still better marketed games exist. Typically, I’d say these are many of the Japanese games and publishers, as people are familiar with say Capcom, but not every Capcom game is going to get the same marketing push as a Street Fighter would.

    But we can call those AA and be done with it.

    Also, it’s worth noting that I no longer associate ‘quality’ in the sense of ‘more creativty’ or ‘more fun’ with the AAA definition. I think that’s probably the case for most of us, which leaves AAA being mostly a reference to budget. Indie is quickly becoming that way as well, I feel.

    1. That’s my issue with AAA and gaming – ‘AAA’ on its own is associated with “good”. AAA beef is better than AA beef, a AAA credit rating is better than an A credit rating, etc.

      The danger with gaming companies using AAA to denote budget or developer house is dangerous because it infers “good” when people are just taking it as “expensive” – and we can all agree those things aren’t mutually exclusive.

        1. If it’s that simple then let’s just choose any other set of three letters as to not confuse things.. from here on out.. AAA games will now be called XXX games! =) (history shows ignorances are rarely quickly learned away)

    2. I agree with Murf here. I don’t really think AAA denotes a judgement about quality. To me it’s all about cost. AAA has a big production/marketing budget, and will also set me back a full $69.99 when it’s released.

      1. I think you and Murf are both looking at it solely as gamers. AAA even comes from the letter grading system. A is always the best. AAA is the besterestest. Look at it from a generally accepted societal perspective.

        If you call something XXX then you probably think it has to do with porn or something adult.

        If you call something AAA then everyone outside of only looking at it from a gaming perspective will think its “good”. Which is why I think it is unfair to try to hang AAA on budget only. The general populace will think otherwise – and this makes it misleading.

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