You’ve likely heard of AAA games, but do you actually know what they are or how to identify them?
These types of games are supposed to offer an unparalleled gaming experience as they are packed full of features, from realistic graphics to emotionally engaging storylines.
In this guide, I’ll explain what makes a game AAA, how to know if a game is considered one, and examples of companies and studios that make them.
What Does Triple A Stand For In Video Games?
The AAA classification of games stands for “Triple-A.” It’s a term used to describe the highest-quality video games created and released by well-known publishers.
Triple-A games are typically large-budget titles that feature top-notch production values, high-end visuals, and deep gameplay.
These types of games are often promoted and featured at the top of game vendor websites, big YouTube channels, large gaming review blogs, television commercials, and even magazine covers.
What Makes A Game AAA?
Aside from the gaming community labeling a game a AAA title, there are three things you can use to help identify them.
Released By Well-Know Publishers With Big Money
AAA games will usually be published by a large gaming publisher with lots of resources. These companies have the budget to create games that feature incredible graphics, detailed worlds, and complex storylines that smaller companies couldn’t afford.
These companies have the resources to create large-scale projects with expansive budgets and the most cutting-edge technology available in the gaming industry.
And they’ll often feature big names in terms of developer talent and star power, with famous actors doing voice-over work and musicians or bands producing memorable music in the games.
You See The Game Marketed All Over The Place
These titles are often accompanied by extensive marketing campaigns with trailers and posters showcasing their sophistication and polish.
Also, as we get closer to the game’s launch date, popular game reviewers will get their hands on a copy to share with their audiences. I can think of a few reviewers off the top of my head are Kotaku, IGN, and Gamespot.
Of course, smaller game publishers will offer their products to these outlets, but they often aren’t showcased with the same amount of enthusiasm.
Again, smaller developers and publishers just don’t have the budget for large marketing campaigns.
The Game Is On Another Level
The gameplay in AAA games is usually deep and engaging. The graphics are incredible (sometimes quite realistic, other times artistic), and the music and sound design are incredibly immersive.
The production values are often so good that you end up feeling like you’re playing in your favorite movie or TV show rather than just a video game.
Also, they usually have expansive worlds with multiple levels to explore and an epic narrative structure with rich storylines and characters.
Overall, they should give you hours upon hours of engaging gameplay. But not all triple-A titles are a hit, and some indie titles, for example, can give the illusion of being AAA when they’re not.
AA vs. AAA Games
Does the rating of a game really matter to you as a gamer? Sometimes it might! Here are some differences between AA and AAA games:
- Cheaper to buy
- Publishers and developers not as well known
- Smaller budgets overall
- Often less polished overall
- May have more issues at launch
- Less long-term support
- Costs more to buy
- Big well-known publishers, developers, voice actors, musicians
- Graphics and sound stand out from other games
- Big marketing budgets
- Long development times
- Fewer bugs and glitches
Ultimately, the decision between an AA or AAA game comes down to what you are looking for in terms of quality, length of playtime, and budget. If you’re a fan of big-budget titles that are polished and feature-rich, and you have the money, then you should opt for AAA games.
On the other hand, if you’re more interested in shorter experiences at a lower price point, then AA games might be more of what you’re looking for. And you may be surprised when some of these AA games give you a better gaming experience than their AAA counterparts.
List Of AAA Game Companies And Studios
Here is a list of 15 popular triple-A companies and studios with a few examples of their games.
Rockstar Games – Rockstar is the undisputed king of the AAA gaming industry. They are best known for their wildly successful Grand Theft Auto series and Red Dead Redemption franchises.
- FromSoftware – A Japanese studio that has become iconic for its challenging and rewarding action RPGs like Dark Souls, Elden Ring, and Bloodborne.
- Blizzard Entertainment – One of the oldest and most respected gaming studios, Blizzard has been producing award-winning titles such as Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo, as well as more recent releases like Overwatch and Hearthstone.
- Ubisoft – Ubisoft is one of the longest-running AAA game companies. They have developed a variety of popular and acclaimed titles, such as Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Watch Dogs, and Rainbow Six Siege.
- Electronic Arts – One of the largest publishers in the industry, EA is responsible for some of the best-selling games of all time. Their catalog includes franchises like The Sims, FIFA, Madden NFL, and Battlefield.
- Sony Interactive Entertainment – A powerhouse publisher that has brought us beloved games through different studios such as Days Gone (Bend Studio) and God of War (Santa Monica Studio).
- Square Enix – Formerly known as Squaresoft, this Japanese gaming juggernaut is responsible for cult classics such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Tomb Raider, Hitman, and Chrono Trigger.
- Naughty Dog – This American studio is best known for its Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter, Uncharted, and The Last of Us franchises.
- CD Projekt Red – This Polish studio first rose to prominence with the critically acclaimed Witcher series. More recently, they released Cyberpunk 2077.
- Bethesda Game Studios – Bethesda is responsible for some of the most favorited franchises of all time, such as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. They are also known for Dishonored and Doom Eternal.
- Kojima Productions – Founded by legendary game designer Hideo Kojima, this studio is best known for the Metal Gear Solid franchise. They have also released Death Stranding and will be releasing the upcoming Silent Hill reboot.
- Valve Corporation – This American studios catalog includes iconic franchises such as Half-Life and Portal, as well as the popular game service STEAM.
- Remedy Entertainment – This Finnish studio is known for its cinematic action-adventure games, such as Max Payne and the recent Control.
- BioWare – A Canadian studio best known for its popular role-playing games such as Baldur’s Gate, Mass Effect, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
- Gearbox Software – An American studio is responsible for popular franchises such as Borderlands and Brothers in Arms.
- Riot Games – This Los Angeles-based studio is best known for League of Legends, Valorant, and Teamfight Tactics.
Are AAA Games Always Good?
While many AAA games are of high quality, this doesn’t mean that all AAA titles are good. Plenty of examples of big-budget video games were either critically shot down or failed to meet their sales expectations.
I think the key is for gamers to read or watch reviews before deciding to hit the buy button. This will help you determine if a game is worth your time and money or not.
I’m no stranger to jumping the gun and buying what I thought was going to be an amazing game, only to feel ripped off part way through the story and eventually abandon playing further.
My most recent experience was with BF2042, but they managed to bring me back into action with some good updates, which fixed many of the problems that initially turned me off.
This is a good time to remind you of the danger of preordering a game. You just don’t know what you’re getting, and it could be a major flop.
Are AAA Games Worth It?
You first have to define what makes a game worth it for you. Is it the difficulty, graphics, story, etc.?
AAA games can give you hours of immersive and entertaining gameplay experiences. While they tend to cost more than indie or free-to-play games, their high production values and quality gaming experience can make them worth it.
Some advantages of buying AAA games include improved graphics, soundtracks, and voice acting, higher replayability, more refined gameplay mechanics, and additional downloadable content (DLC).
At the same time, AAA games are not for everyone. They often require a lot more money to buy, which may not be suitable for those with limited gaming budgets or who don’t have the time to commit to playing them.
Also, if you are looking for a game that offers an original experience, AAA titles may not always be the best choice. In fact, indie games often bring unique concepts and gameplay elements that make them stand out.
So, if you’re looking for something fresh and unique that doesn’t require a large financial commitment, then indie and free-to-play games may be more worth it to you.