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AbsolutSurgen

General Gaming What makes a game AAA or Indie?

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Several people (myself included) have been throwing around the terms "AAA" and "Indie" pretty loosely.  And I just came to the realization that I may not have the expertise to clearly to be able to easily bucket games.  I'm appealing to the experts on D1P to help me!

 

AAA Games

I remember hearing this term in the mid-90s for the first time, and it clearly referred to big budget games that had large development budgets, and attracted significant marketing budgets.  These are games like CoD, Madden, Battlefront, God of War.

 

(Tangent:  I recall, initially, anything not being "AAA" as being a "B" game -- I also remember the term "AA" being thrown around in the early oughts as well to classify smaller games.)

 

Indie Games

Indie games are games that are self funded by a developer, and typically developed outside of a major-publishing relationship.

 

Questions I Have

1.  Can a game be both AAA and Indie at the same time?  (i.e. Cyberpunk 2077 which is a huge budget game, which is not being funded by a publisher)

2.  Can a game move from being an Indie game to a AAA game later?  (i.e. Minecraft which was developed an released by one person, but is now published by Microsoft)

3.  Can a game be neither AAA or Indie?  (i.e. A Way Out -- which was published by EA, but had a very low Budget)

4.  Can a game have a publisher and still be Indie?  (i.e. if it's published by Devolver Digital, it is Indie?  How about Koei Tecmo? Atlus?)

5.  Can a development studio make both AAA and Indie games?  (i.e. Ninja Theory made DMC for publisher Capcom, and then developed and self-published Hellblade with a team of 15-20 people)

6.  Should there be a different way of classifying games beyond just these two terms?  If so, what are they?

 

I need to be able to classify my games!

 

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AAA - Big Budget, usually a known dev attached to it, almost guaranteed to be part of a series, often has a big publisher attached

B tier/AA - Moderate budget, niche dev that makes basically the same types of games over and over (think PyranaBytes) or one offs, second tier publisher attached 

Indie - Small budget, no publisher/very small publisher (this is clearly changing as known "indies" sign deals), new ideas, graphic fidelity tends to be lower or more stylized, typically requires less hardware to run great, experimental or disruptive design to a well established genre. 

Cage - whatever the fuck those things are that David Cage makes! 

 

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2 minutes ago, Mr.Vic20 said:

AAA - Big Budget, usually a known dev attached to it, almost guaranteed to be part of a series, often has a big publisher attached

B tier/AA - Moderate budget, niche dev that makes basically the same types of games over and over (think PyranaBytes) or one offs, second tier publisher attached 

Indie - Small budget, no publisher/very small publisher (this is clearly changing as known "indies" sign deals), new ideas, graphic fidelity tends to be lower or more stylized, typically requires less hardware to run great, experimental or disruptive design to a well established genre. 

Cage - whatever the fuck those things are that David Cage makes! 

 

Where to I put Cuphead in your tiers?  :hmm:

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3 minutes ago, AbsolutSurgen said:

Where to I put Cuphead in your tiers?  :hmm:

Cuphead is a great example of an indie that signed a deal 

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If the game sucks and cost a lot of money to make: AAA

 

If the game is good and was cheap: Indie

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I prefer using “retail.”  Which today, is generally considered a day one retail release that is reviewed by major publications.

 

That’s not indie, or at least can’t be anymore.  Beyond that, all is subjective.

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To me, AAA means the same thing as "blockbuster" does for a movie. It's an indication purely of the budget behind the title. Indie simply means that it's independent, not being funded by a huge corporation. 

 

So yeah, something like Cyberpunk could count as both, just like Valerian was both an Indie film and a blockbuster (and a bomb, and sucked).

 

They're not the only two possibilities in games (or movies), and I don't think everything needs to be classified in similar terms, but they serve to indicate the origins of a game.

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I would say a game can be both indie and AAA. It would depend on how the game is funded and the make up of the team.

 

The former is pretty self explaining. You’re not independent with a big publisher backing you. 

 

For the latter I would feel the game is no longer Indie if there are multiple game studios working on it. Like one company working on campaign, another doing miltiplayer, and maybe another for cutscenes, etc. As you’re not really independent by heavily using another companies talent and resources to create the game. 

 

but say Destiny 3 is all done in house and Bungie stays self publishing. I’d be pretty confident that could be called a “AAA Indie” game. 

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AAA - The games you pretend you hate, but play the most

AA - The games you want, but don't want to pay for

Indie - The games you really want, but only play for ten minutes.

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46 minutes ago, XxEvil AshxX said:

AAA - The games you pretend you hate, but play the most

AA - The games you want, but don't want to pay for

Indie - The games you really want, but only play for ten minutes.

 

AA and indie I feel are switched here. :p 

 

At least for me. I like shit like Astro Bot and Gravity Rush and Bloodborne (which I'm 100% sure did not have anywhere near the budget of Sony's AAA offerings and is actually AA).

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