AAA Games Are In A Weird Spot, Gears of War Creator Cliff Bleszinski Claims
AA games like Rocket League may be the answer.
The AAA gaming market has seen some uncertainty over the last few years- the volume of releases has gone down, studios have downsized or gone bankrupt, costs have spiralled out of control, more and more cynical profit maximization business practices, such as DLC, season passes, microtransactions, and even rushed games, have become the norm, and games have become largely homogenized as well.
According to Cliff Bleszinski, the creator of Gears of War – arguably the prototypical modern AAA game – AAA games are in a weird spot right now, with lots of customers feeling burned by them as a result. Speaking at Dubrovnik’s Reboot Develop 2017, Bleszinski pointed out that AAA games cost far too much to develop, and their business model is basically ‘unsustainable’. Customers themselves can only afford to pay $60 for a limited number of games every year, especially with considerations such as Season Passes and DLC thrown in- but practices like microtransactions and buggy and rushed launches are making them wary of spending even that money on games, which in turn is causing more pressure, and therefore more of a trend towards these abusive practices, in the AAA industry.
The solution may be something like ‘AA’ games. AA games is essentially new parlance for mid tier games- these used to exist until the transition tot he HD era, when, unable to keep up with costs, the bottom fell out of that market. Recently, they have started to make a comeback, with games like Rocket League, or publisher Focus Home interactive’s lineup, being some notable instances in this category. Bleszinski says that these games, by focusing on comparatively limited scope, cheaper budgets as a result, and cheaper prices (thanks to largely digital only releases), have done exceedingly well- and this may counteract the disillusionment with AAA gaming.
On the whole, this is not something I can disagree with, and it is something I have spoken of myself a lot in the past. I think that the resurgence of Japanese gaming – most of which can hardly be called AAA, let’s be honest – is also proof that people are getting tired of AAA games, and are now looking elsewhere. I welcome this- the more variety in the gaming market, the better.