AAA (game industry)

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In the video game industry, AAA (pronounced "triple A") is a classification term used for games with the highest development budgets and levels of promotion.[1][2][3][4] A title considered to be AAA is therefore expected to be a high quality game and to be among the year's bestsellers.[5][not in citation given]


With the early modernism of the video game industry occurring during the '80s and after the North American video game crash of 1983, gaming companies needed to find a standard term in order to help the audience distinguishing good titles from the poorly developed ones. Nintendo was one of the first companies attempting to create their own system through the use of a Nintendo Seal of Quality on their products, denoting that the games had been properly tested and approved.[6] Alfred Milgrom of Beam Software, revealed how this changed the development attitude towards games, "In terms of game testing they revolutionized the concept. They said zero defects – we will not allow you to release a game that has any bugs in it whatsoever. Now zero defects was an unheard of concept in any other software or on any other gaming platform. We had to change our programming attitude and the way we developed games, which was brilliant. It was really hard work.”.[7] Nevertheless, the rest of the industry lacked an independent term that could translate the overall quality of a title. Most of the times, companies used magazines endorsement, or score reviews printed on the game box to assure the audience about the quality of their titles.

In the 90s, during gaming conventions in the US (CES, CGDC, E3 and private ones), some development companies started using the acronym AAA[2] among themselves, based on the Academic grading in the United States (A being the highest and F, denoting failure, the lowest).

AAA is not an acronym, but a grading scale, but some like to see it as an acronym to more simply show what attributes a game uses. One common way of perceived AAA as an acronym is like so, each "A" has a meaning regarding an overall quality.[8] One "A" is given to games that are considered to be successful (critics or reviewers give it a perfect, or almost perfect score), another "A" is used when a game brings "innovative Gameplay" (a gaming characteristic so unique that differentiate the game from all the rest), and finally, the last "A" defines "Financial Success" (game sales that generate a huge profit). A title consider to be AAA is therefore a high quality game and its expected to be among the year’s bestsellers.[5][not in citation given]

Soon after, video game journalism, reviewers, and even the companies press-releases,[9] would also use the term to classify games (in some cases, referring to it as an equivalent to a movie blockbuster).

As the years progressed and during the new millennium, many publishers started to consider their games to be AAA even before their release,[4][10][11] and justified this decision through huge development and marketing budgets.[12]


An AAA title is intended to demonstrate the very best within a gaming company or franchise.[5][better source needed] Games not considered to be AAA have been referred to as "B titles",[13] by analogy to B-movies.[14]


  1. ^ Kent, Steven (2001). The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokémon and Beyond- The Story That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World (First ed.). Roseville, California: Prima Publishing. ISBN 0-7615-3643-4. 
  2. ^ a b Demaria, Rusel and Wilson, John (2002). High Score!: The Illustrated History of Electronic Games (First ed.). USA: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media. ISBN 0-07-222428-2. 
  3. ^ J.P.Wolf, Mark (2002). The Video Game Explosion: A History from PONG to PlayStation and Beyond (First ed.). London: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0240811461. 
  4. ^ a b "E3 Report: The Path to Creating AAA Games". Retrieved 2014-01-30. 
  5. ^ a b c "AAA Games". Retrieved 2014-01-30. 
  6. ^ "Licensed and Unlicensed Products". Retrieved 2014-01-30. 
  7. ^ Donovan, Tristan (2010). Replay: The History of Video Games (First ed.). East Sussex,UK: Yellow Ant. ISBN 978-0-9565072-2-8. 
  8. ^ Pettus, Sam; Muñoz, David; Williams,Kevin and Barroso, Ivan (2013). Service Games: The Rise and Fall of Sega (Second ed.). USA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 1494288354. 
  9. ^ Steinberg, Scott (2007). The definitive guide: Videogame marketing and PR (First ed.). USA: iUniverse, Inc. ISBN 0-07-222428-2. 
  10. ^ "ubisoft-has-2-new-aaa-games-coming". Retrieved 2014-01-30. 
  11. ^ "black-tusk-creating-aaa-game-for-xbox-one". Retrieved 2014-01-30. 
  12. ^ Thomas, David; Orland, Kyle and Steinberg, Scott (2007). The Videogame Style Guide and Reference Manual (First ed.). USA: ISBN 978-0595433711. 
  13. ^ "no-room-for-b-games-says-ubisoft-montreal-head". Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  14. ^ "is-there-a-market-for-b-quality-games". Retrieved 2014-02-01.