Weekly Wringer #101 - Series 2 Kickoff!

Ladies and Gentlefolk welcome to Series 2 of the Weekly Wringer! At long last, the Commodore is back this week with a wrap up of his favorite of the 100 previous episodes and a question for next week that will get the new series off to a great start. Dust off those thinking (Wario) caps, it’s the Weekly Wringer! And it’s long overdue…

15 Comments

  • I Feel Asleep I Feel Asleep
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 11:32 PM | Permalink

    I don’t think that AAA games are extinct yet. There are still some good AAA games coming out like The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite. That being said if the AAA developers don’t change the way that they are doing things that they might be. I think that people are getting tired of the constant sequels and reboots that aren’t doing anything new with gameplay or story telling. With so much money going into the development of AAA games it can be hard to take a risk on something different. I think that they should focus on smaller scale games to try new ideas and when they find one that people respond to, spend the additional money to refine those core mechanics. I think in the last few years that many games that have come out from smaller developers have shown that you can have a successful game that is mechanically interesting without spending tens of millions to develop it. If AAA developers don’t change what they are doing soon then they very well might go extinct.

    • DTX180
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 1:04 AM | Permalink

      Its funny that you mention bioshock, now that their studios closed down. Although I’d imagine the series will continue.

      • I Feel Asleep I Feel Asleep
        Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:03 PM | Permalink

        That is an odd coincidence. I guess that goes to show that even a good game with fairly respectable sales still cannot overcome a six year development cycle and spending time and money on unimplemented features like multi-player.

  • Posted February 18, 2014 at 10:43 PM | Permalink

    AAA titles aren’t going to go away any time soon but we might see less of them. The stakes for such games are at all time highs. The biggest contributing factor is the ability for smaller game developers to make successful games on a relatively low budget. I think we are going through kind of a Renaissance period for games right now where the players have more direct contact with the developers and more influence in the game’s development. I think this is fantastic as it puts more power into the consumer’s hands. It’s great when small developers have successful fundraising campaigns through things like Kickstarter as well as others because it proves there is a fanbase that will purchase the game when it is finished, no matter how obscure the type of game it may be. When big developers make a AAA title they have to make it appeal to as wide an audience as possible to get the sales needed to make a profit, but we’re finding that this is becoming less and less successful because more people are looking for sort of niche-market games that they will enjoy themselves. The smaller budget games are becoming a more ideal business model. AAA titles today have to have progressively bigger budgets and therefore face higher risk of failing to recover on sales. As long as the big publishers are willing to put the big budgets into their AAA games we’ll keep seeing and probably buying them but I suspect we’ll see more publishers turn to smaller budget games to make their money. I have no problem with this as we’ve seen it proven that you don’t need a massive budget to produce a fun or compelling game.

  • Posted February 22, 2014 at 3:07 AM | Permalink

    There hasn’t been a AAA game since MoTown software closed their doors.

    Just like all forms of media, gaming has come to the point where “safe” is the norm. It is difficult to call a lot of recent successful games as AAA. I know the definition of AAA is basically when tons of money is used to make a game, but can we really call games that require day 1 patching or games that only cost so much because of graphics or forced concepts like “always online” AAA titles?
    Since the birth of the X-box, which created really 4 serious revenues of gaming (3 consoles and 1 PC) at a time which game development was increasing in cost, AAA games as we knew them ceased. Personally, I see AAA games as big budget games that become popular without the aid of the developer or publisher. An example of this would be Last of Us. Regardless of ones opinion of the title, it was the gaming community that made it popular.

    Are AAA games gone…no, we just only get a few of them per “generation”, which I guess makes them endangered.

  • lucktacular lucktacular
    Posted February 23, 2014 at 4:50 AM | Permalink

    It’s an interesting question, Commodore.

    I think most people would have to agree that the AAA experience is not extinct. Just look at the lists of games planned for release for the newest consoles. It’s not really disputable that they are still alive and kicking. AAA games are the system-sellers/killer-apps that all the hardware manufacturers want.

    The latest release of consoles, if I’m not mistaken, is the most successful launch of consoles ever. The PS4 is already basically caught up to the WiiU in sales despite a year’s head start and the Xbox is only a couple million units behind. Now I know most of us here would agree that amazing graphics does not a good game make, but I think people are hungry for new games that blow the previous generation out of the water. AAA games are the driving force behind that leap in technology.

    A small team making an indie title may be creating someone’s favorite game of the year. I should know, I’ve already sunk 130+ hours into Rust ($20 on Steam) and only played Bioshock Infinite for about 10 hours (paid $60 at launch). But most of the time indie games don’t really push the limits of available hardware.

    If people were only interested in buying that $10-20 download-only indie hit from XBLA, PSN, or Steam I don’t think the newest generation of consoles would be doing so well.

  • Markies
    Posted February 23, 2014 at 1:29 PM | Permalink

    I think AAA games are here to stay and will not being going away any time soon. It’s hard for game companies to ignore the hundreds of millions of dollars that Battlefield/Call of Duty/Grand Theft Auto/Halo make when they are released.

    Obviously, Indy games have seen a rise like no other recently and many people are jumping on that bandwagon. However, I don’t see it fully taking the gaming world by storm. Super casual gamers aren’t going to Steam and downloading the small Indy titles. They are sticking to their giant AAA game and playing that one game for months on end.

    I think AA games are basically dead. You only have two types now a days and that is the large AAA title and the small Indy ‘A’ title. Unless you are a small Japanese niche game company, AA titles are almost dead. With companies like Midway, Atari and many others folding up shops, you are just not seeing the large influx of games like you did in the PS2/GCN/XBOX era. Those medium size games are just not out there anymore. And if they are, they are getting panned for being too short or too small. Every single release is either a giant game that they spend millions of dollars making or a small Indy title that is only being made by a handful of people.

  • SmokePants
    Posted February 23, 2014 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

    Well, obviously Triple-A games aren’t extinct yet, nor do I see their extinction as imminent. If it was to happen, it would be a disaster for the continued growth and investment in the video game industry.

    If we think for a minute about how big the game industry is — last year it topped $93 Billion worldwide — we can equate it to a hungry lion that needs to hunt large prey in order to survive. Snacking on a field mouse is not going to do it any good. A field mouse is only of consequence to a much smaller cat.

    Triple-A titles are the large prey and smaller titles are the field mice. Hunting carries great risk to the lion. Its list of potential prey includes many powerful animals that are fully capable of injuring or even killing it. But in the end, it has no choice. Evolution determined that this was the lion’s best strategy for survival.

    The industry will keep making Triple-A games because that’s what got it to $93B and that’s what will get it past $100B. If the day comes when Triple A development is entirely unfeasible, then that’s the day the industry crashes.

    A Take Two stockholder has one question: when does the next GTA come out? If the answer is “never”, then that investor is screaming at his broker to sell all his Take Two stock and putting his money into a completely different industry with a better return on investment.

    But the sun will rise on another day and a new GTA will be developed.

    Oh, and welcome back, Commodore.

  • DTX180
    Posted February 23, 2014 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

    To me AAA games are ruining themselves by their own business models. It seems like since the late PS2/GC/XBOX era and definitely by early last gen western developers have become the main developers in gaming. Maybe the way USA businesses work is different from Japan, but the recent rise of western developers created this sort of “arms race” by having absurd budgets that can’t really allow games to succeed. If a game doesn’t sell 8 million copies in the first month, the company might go bankrupt. That is an awful business model. Because of these budgets, these games can’t take risks. Everyone who plays them gets some appeal, but nobody seems to get a lot of appeal.

    I’m all for including as many people in gaming as possible, but the way AAA developers are doing it by sorta watering down genres is poor imo. Combined with the internet being faster than ever, people have many ways to find games to kill time with, rather than the traditional “wait 2 years for a big game to come out” style.

  • KuraraII KuraraII
    Posted February 23, 2014 at 9:39 PM | Permalink

    Hooray, I can finally post. :)

    I think that AAA games are experiencing diminishing returns due to the increasingly complex nature of hardware and the fractionation of home media. Much like movies, there is a trend to manufacture bigger, prettier, and more bombastic features to keep up with the trend of “outdoing the last thing”. To achieve what are realistically incremental advances, they need to manage exponentially growing costs.

    I think you could say that the AAA bubble is going to burst if/when publishers can no longer balance their expenses vs predicted sales (or to make the case that they are able to, to investors) in the face of growing consumer apathy and the massive in-roads that budget and indie titles are making into the collective gaming conscience.

    It will likely mean that companies are either going to go bust or diversify until the pendulum representing market expectations swings back into balance. AAA titles will scale down in their ostentatious spending, sales predictions will start reflecting reality and things will reach a status quo until the next big media arms-race (VR gaming, holograms, Call of Sailing, Medal of Medical School, or whatever you can imagine capturing our collective imagination :P).

  • punch_a_bunch_a_buttons punch_a_bunch_a_buttons
    Posted February 24, 2014 at 5:07 AM | Permalink

    I would say that the AAA titles will filter themselves leaving only the BEST AAA titles or the ones that got advertised the most and ending with a lucky sale. Those who got filtered will hurt the companies making them. So going for a triple A title will be more of a gamble in the near future. Makers of games such as GTA or FIFA series will not be bothered by this but other companies might think twice before going forward with something…

  • Swizlet
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

    AAA titles are in no way dead, but they are dead to me. There are really two types of people making games in my opinion. Successful companies sinking huge $$$ into advertising and design, and indie developers. AAA titles will never die out because they have become too mainstream in society (could you imagine a Call of Duty that didn’t have hundreds of “dudebros” lining up at midnight?) however AAA titles are generally garbage in my opinion. Video Games have just become so mainstream that (Hippy vibe incoming) no one really has the love for video games anymore. Its just push out this “safe” game with nothing new and people will buy it. No one wants to take the chance at innovation for the love of the videogames, other than small indie developers. I feel like we are entering an age where indie hits are just going to be the norm. You will always have your AAA titles towering over everything, but indie titles will somehow smash through and steal some of the spotlight, kind of like how minecraft has forced its way into the mainstream with its creative gameplay and innovation. Its like another age of garage developers, but this time we have better hardware, and huge world wide acceptance, but with large titles there; granted not blocking them from rising, but they will just always be there.

  • mrandycretin mrandycretin
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 8:47 PM | Permalink

    “Grand Theft Auto V broke industry sales records by earning US$800 million in the first 24 hours of its release and US$1 billion within its first three days, making it the fastest selling entertainment product in history.” -Wikipedia

    You can send my Best Commenter trophy in the mail.

  • Young-blood Young-blood
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 9:19 PM | Permalink

    I must say that, while I am very glad to see the return of the wringer, this isn’t a question I’m best positioned to answer.

    I neither care much about, or pretend to know anything about AAA titles.

    I guess they’re not going to go anywhere any time soon, because the coin landed on heads.

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