This year has been an amazing one for gamers, with new releases coming out left and right. However, the industry has mostly remained focused on AAA titles.
The leading contender for the GOTY award, Baldurs Gate 3, is one of the year’s biggest releases. Anticipated releases like Starfield also garnered attention for their size and scope, which would only be possible for AAA studios.
Discussing the current state of the industry, an environment artist from Cliffhanger Games suggested that AAA studios should work on smaller games for added variety in the industry.
Why it matters: In the past, other developers have suggested AAA gaming is unsustainable in its current form. Therefore, mixing these projects with AA titles could be very useful for studios.
Would be nice to have big AAA studios "making" (not publishing) more small scope games (2years for example)
We would have more variety,experimenting
Releasing more games in the same company more often
Nice for the Mental to work on other things
Not everything has to be "BIG" pic.twitter.com/2YkIfNMi22
— Jeryce Dianingana | Cliffhanger Games (@JeryceDia) November 23, 2023
Jeryce Dianingana is a 3D senior artist currently working on the Black Panther game. He suggests that AAA studios should try games that can be created in a year or two.
The developer believes this would allow studios to experiment with different concepts. At the same time, these developers would be able to create multiple titles at the same studio through this approach.
He explained that every game doesn’t need to be big, and this trend would overcome burnout caused by projects stretching over multiple years. Another developer from WB Games chimed in, agreeing that AA games could add a lot of variety to the industry.
Additionally, Josh Sawyer, the studio design director of Obsidian, argued that even smaller games than AA titles can be useful for the industry.
Obviously biased opinion but I'd also say that even "A" games can accomplish this. Execs are often not really concerned about devs' opinions on this stuff, but there's also a upside for the bottom line, which is staff retention (cont.). https://t.co/CkTRUzDK4f
— Josh Sawyer (@jesawyer) November 24, 2023
Josh Sawyer has worked on Pentiment, an “A” game, and believes those games can be exemplary with a great team and budget.
He agrees that there are many downsides to AAA development since they are long projects. This makes them vulnerable to scheduling issues, so high turnover is uncommon in AAA development.
In some cases, developers end up leaving the industry because of these reasons. Josh Swayer explained:
“working on both Grounded (AA) and Pentiment (A) has directly contributed to how we think about current and future projects.”
In 2023, a game like Hi-Fi Rush has been quite a hit, encouraging Bethesda to take more risks. Other examples like Cuphead also show that smaller games can be just as good as the offerings from AAA studios.
This is the point Josh Swayer and other developers hope to drive home, using their own examples to explain the importance of AA games.
Abiyan is on track to complete his Computer Science bachelor’s degree. His enthusiasm for writing and gaming motivates him to keep readers and gamers updated with the latest information from the industry. In his free time, Abiyan enjoys playing Dota 2 and Rocket League. Abiyan has also been cited in reputed websites such as Kitguru, Comicbook, GamingBible, Eurogamer and Gamingbolt.