While it’s generally agreed that the number of AAA developers has decreased in the past decade, it seems the decline is much sharper than it first appears. In a white paper produced for DICE Europe, Electronic Arts’ Chief creative officer Richard Hilleman revealed that there are about 25 studios worldwide currently working on AAA titles.
“What is true today is that there are fewer AAA games being built than at the same point in the previous generation. I’ve done some calculations that say there were about 125 teams in the industry worldwide working on what I’d call a AAA game on a console, and that was 7 or 8 years ago.
“That number today is well south of 30; probably in the 25 range. What’s interesting is that, if you look at the composition of those teams, the numbers are exactly the same: those 125 teams became 25; the size of the teams increased by a factor of four. It seems things will stabilize heading into the next generation though.
Of course, this is due to the increase in visual quality and ever demanding nature of consumers for the biggest, best and most explosive title out there. “This has everything to do with the standard definition to HD change. If you look at the math, that change is about content – richly about content – and as we evolved, our costs went substantially up.
“And the number of people on teams with that kind of vision went up by necessity. I don’t see that kind of content-oriented change coming in this next generation of platforms. As a result, I think we were on a path that made me nervous, but it seems to have stabilised.”