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Video Game Dictionary - Why Do We Call Them "AAA" Games?

AAA (Triple A)

IPA: /trɪpl-eɪ/


AAA or Triple A is a term that is incredibly common in the games industry. It’s a fundamental distinction about the kind of games and companies you see and encounter. The term is used to denote the highest budget games and highest revenue companies throughout the games industry.

Within games, the use isn’t as old as you might initially think. The term began being used in games in the late 1990s when games were growing into major “blockbuster” titles. It was initially used as games events and conventions throughout America.

The term itself is borrowed from the credit industry. In that industry they use terms called bond ratings which represents the safety of a corporate or government bond. In games this was used to denote titles and companies that represented the safest opportunities, that were most likely to meet their revenue goals.

One of the first titles to be labelled “AAA” was the historic Final Fantasy VII. The cost of development is estimated at around $45 million, or around $70 million in todays money. At that time it was the most expensive video game ever produced.

“AAA” didn’t stay with budgets that high. By the era of the Xbox 360 and PS3, when the term became ubiquitous in the consumer market, those budgets were often around $10 – 20 million. An interesting note to this is that in a whitepaper published by EA Games, at that time the number of AAA developers had consolidated from around 125 to just 25.

Example Usage

“I love AAA and Indie games; they both have their own place.”

“They’re a AAA developer, their games are huge.”

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