The Triple-A Budget Conundrum - is it worth it?

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User Info: SigmaLongshot

SigmaLongshot
2 months ago#1
AAA.

To some people the term means "the biggest games". To some it means, "from bigger development teams". Others might perceive it as "the most popular got-to-have games that sell in the millions".

In reality, a "AAA" game simply means that it had an extraordinarily large amount of money behind its production, a premium price for (at least, what you'd assume to be) a premium game.

But all the money in the world doesn't always equate to a phenomenal product, and in some cases, the triple-A budget comes with a slew of detrimental little caveats.

Games have increased in development cost to a ludicrous degree - merely ten years ago the average budget for the most expensive games was between £40-£60 million , and now we've got games coming out with budgets of up to £250 million (such as GTA5). This phenomenally-increased cost does not translate to the price of games, which are largely unchanged (and accounting for inflation, are actually cheaper to buy in today's money), and even though the number of copies sold has increased as the medium has gotten more popular, the standard £50 flat fee model simply cannot support the triple-A life (with even huge franchises such as Resident Evil selling 7-8 million units and being regarded a financial failure/loss).

And so, we find ourselves amidst a slew of season passes, loot boxes, microtransactions, expansions and collectors editions - all termed by the more vocal sects of the gaming community as "greedy cash grabs", but are realistically ways to recoup significant losses accrued by the triple-A setup. Relying mostly on "whales" - a derogatory term for gamers who are likely to over-indulge on several of the aforementioned add-ons, publishers can eventually turn a profit, recouping the nett losses of the original £50 product. Without these additional add-ons, however, we'd be looking at around £80-£100 per product as a flat fee, something most people would balk at - so the add-on model seems to be the poison of choice for the majority of people.

However, we now see some gems created for relatively small budgets. For a budget of one or two million, small 3-10 man teams can produce some truly spectacular smaller games and can sell them for a more attractive £10-£20 price point, making profits at sale levels of 200,000 units or fewer. By paring back and adopting a more modest style, the middle market has seen some success.

So my question to you, Gamefaqs, is... the triple-A budget - it's an enormous beast which has become so immense that it can no longer support itself by traditional sales models. If it is to continue to grow, we will either have to accept a new more expensive price point for games, or find ourselves engulfed in an even higher concentration of microtransactions, loot boxes and collectors statuettes, shoved into our faces at every turn.

But seeing how well smaller budgets fare with some talent and common sense - lower price point, lower risk, greater creativity - is the triple A budget model even worth it any longer?
XB1/XB360/Wii U: TotoMimo PS4: Gooey_Toto/SigmaLongshot
A decade working in AAA game development? Time certainly flies.

User Info: supertecmobowl

supertecmobowl
2 months ago#2
A big reason why this generation of consoles are not a considerable leap in graphics, was to prevent high game costs. Xbox one and Playstation 4 were aware that their business model of selling consoles at a loss were no longer needed, because game development was too high.
Favorite NFL Teams: Cowboys/Rams.

User Info: Mirage13

Mirage13
2 months ago#3
If publishers would stop dropping the prices of games a month after they release, a AAA game's high-budget would be a non-issue.

https://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/691087-playstation-4/75878074
If you care at all for gaming, you will NEVER support microtransactions or loot boxes.

User Info: SigmaLongshot

SigmaLongshot
2 months ago#4
supertecmobowl posted...
A big reason why this generation of consoles are not a considerable leap in graphics, was to prevent high game costs. Xbox one and Playstation 4 were aware that their business model of selling consoles at a loss were no longer needed, because game development was too high.


I mean, my last studio I worked at was nearly 300 staff strong. The game we worked on was a collaboration between ourselves and two other studios (240 and 430 staff respectively) and it cost the company somewhere in the region of £140m to make just the base game alone - it was launched with a plan for two years of follow-up content to recoup the inevitable losses of the base game.

If the PS5 and NeXbox were to have a phenomenal jump in graphics, AI and effects, you'd be looking at 1-3 thousand staff taking a year or two to put a game out, and the cost would be astronomical - over a hundred quid for the game itself, and all the add-on costs that come along with it.

Is that really worth it? Do you reckon the additional polish, having Kit Harrington motion-captured as your antagonist in 8K, 120 FPS with the most phenomenally realistic AI ever - is that worth the extreme expense - and if so, which delivery method suits better? Hypothetically, if we continue down the triple-A budget bloat formula, you could expect:

£200 for the game, or
£120 for the game with microtransactions.

Is AAA... worth it, considering it on those terms?
XB1/XB360/Wii U: TotoMimo PS4: Gooey_Toto/SigmaLongshot
A decade working in AAA game development? Time certainly flies.

User Info: Jiggy101011

Jiggy101011
2 months ago#5
You won't get much of a discussion on this topic. From what I can tell the vast majority of gamers are aware that games are now more expensive to make, they are aware the base price point of games hasn't changed in over a decade, but they still expect loot boxes to be gone and all DLC to be free otherwise it's a scam.
Gamertag: F1RE v2 PSN ID: F1REx
Man got me a 9 and she sexy.

User Info: SigmaLongshot

SigmaLongshot
2 months ago#6
Jiggy101011 posted...
You won't get much of a discussion on this topic. From what I can tell the vast majority of gamers are aware that games are now more expensive to make, they are aware the base price point of games hasn't changed in over a decade, but they still expect loot boxes to be gone and all DLC to be free otherwise it's a scam.


This is true, and I appreciate that many responses might be the usual "make games cheaper, give us more content, those lazy devs and greedy publishers" tripe - though I would like to know if gamefaqs posters think that (based on the reviewable evidence) continuing along the AAA path is viable or even necessary.

If not, maybe even if the objectors could propose another option?

Either type of response would be relevant to the topic at hand.
XB1/XB360/Wii U: TotoMimo PS4: Gooey_Toto/SigmaLongshot
A decade working in AAA game development? Time certainly flies.

User Info: mike468

mike468
2 months ago#7
I think there is a fair argument to be made about cheaper games. If game developers lowered the price on new games, they would actually sell more. Most games see a good spike in sales when they are discounted down. Also people are hesitant to buy new games at $60 if they get less than 9+ reviews. Especially on AAA games. But if you lower the price to say $40 or even less, people are more willing to but it, because IMO at that point it becomes an impulse buy.

Also steam sales are a perfect example of how people will jump at games they never would have even thought about buying just because the price is so low. I have a few friends who are PC gamers and they have a backlog of 100+ games, just because of steam sales.

That being said, I honestly hate loot boxes. I really think game developers should reign in the cost of game development. Not every AAA game warrents that massive of a budge, and equally as many don't hit the sales numbers to warrent them either.

IMO, I feel the industry itself is to blame for high development costs. Rather than give a game a normal development cycle of a few years, they want to rush sequels to market to cash in. Also rushing games to market has also burnt players out on game series and genres. Gears of war 4, uncharted 4, god of war ascension all did horrible from a sales perspective. Rhythm music genre is dead because of the anualization. And many fans would argue halo has lost it's soul.

Got to remember that the majority of gamers are 30+. They remember when a lot of these extra stuff like extra characters, game modes, skins, etc where unlocked through normal means, and not paid for.

It's a fine line with loot boxes, where games like overwatch, are a little more generious with thier payouts, and games like Halo 5 and gears 4 where it's a blaitent cash grab.

IMO I feel destiny 2 has actually hit the nail on the head with paid content. Not only do you earn a loot engram just for leveling up, but the vendor has a rotating selection of items each week that you can pay for with dust, that is earned from actually dismantling items from these paid loot boxes.
Triggered fanboys,make the internet go round. In the most disgusting way

User Info: lunaticcore

lunaticcore
2 months ago#8
Right now it just feels like "AAA game" just means it is going to be filled with boring formula nonsense.

I don't want to be bored with the progression system right away just because all these games are using the same systems based on whatever has been most popular recently. Too much Deja Vu in AAA games because they need to play it safe because of all the investment. Everything looks the same, plays the same, has the same DLC schedule filled with standard DLC packages, and now we got mystery loot in everything.

It's just boring.
Endless Metroid month.. Samus Returns HYPE... Come watch us playthrough Super Metroid, Zero Mission, AM2R and Metroid Fusion. http://bit.ly/2vlfYbS

User Info: NuclearHendrix

NuclearHendrix
2 months ago#9
1. Quit spending so much of the budget on advertising the game.

2. Price your game correctly. If it's thin on content, it's not worth $60, and probably not even $40 or $30 either.
To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize - Voltaire

User Info: Jiggy101011

Jiggy101011
2 months ago#10
SigmaLongshot posted...
Jiggy101011 posted...
You won't get much of a discussion on this topic. From what I can tell the vast majority of gamers are aware that games are now more expensive to make, they are aware the base price point of games hasn't changed in over a decade, but they still expect loot boxes to be gone and all DLC to be free otherwise it's a scam.


This is true, and I appreciate that many responses might be the usual "make games cheaper, give us more content, those lazy devs and greedy publishers" tripe - though I would like to know if gamefaqs posters think that (based on the reviewable evidence) continuing along the AAA path is viable or even necessary.

If not, maybe even if the objectors could propose another option?

Either type of response would be relevant to the topic at hand.


Whether it's viable or not I'll let the publisher decide that one as they have the raw data to pull from. I'm a firm believer of good games sell, bad games don't regardless of their budget.

A game like GTA is going to sell well not just because it has name recognition but because Rockstar usually delivers an amazing experience, the same can't be said for some AAA Ubisoft titles such as Ghost Recon or Assassins Creed and aren't those normally 1000+ teams working on those games? I imagine Ubisoft internally has had to look at Microtransactions and the like to boost their numbers for each title they release.

My point in my other topic still stands though, Activision in 2016 made $3.6 Billion off of in game transactions. Do you really think they are going to stop doing it because a vocal minority hate them? No, but you can guarantee EA, Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, Capcom and all of the other AAA studios are trying to get some of that pie.
Gamertag: F1RE v2 PSN ID: F1REx
Man got me a 9 and she sexy.
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