Everything to know about AAA Game development


In the simplest form, AAA games have a high development and marketing budget. For avid gamers, subtle nuances beyond the gameplay matter more than anything else. The graphics quality, sound effects, and framerate all influence the gamer’s psyche.

With every generation of consoles and new hardware getting introduced, comes an anticipation of compatible games. Hence every generation of game developers and studios work toward pushing the technical boundaries of designing.

These games are securing a position in the market pushing aside other genres with the technology and fine refining methods. Primarily such games are so expensive because they feature graphics, sound, and game mechanics which are much advanced.

Read on to find out all about AAA game cost and development and what makes it an attractive investment for clients.

What are AAA games?

The term “AAA” first came about in the 1990s with a few top gaming companies using the term to describe their projects at game conventions. It was a borrowed term from the credit industry where “AAA” rated bonds are considered the safest to achieve their financial goals.

In the game industry, AAA is a criterion for games that are characterized by their high-quality graphics, and technical complexity. These games also have a significantly high budget for their marketing. The concept behind AAA games is to deliver high-quality and detailed video games that can maximize profit.

AAA Games

Such games are designed like blockbusters with an uncompromised budget by top gaming companies. Usually, the best game developers are hired for AAA game development. Typically the AAA game development process calls for at least more than 15 people in the team.

Take the example of Cyberpunk 2077 whose development cost was approximately $174 million and the marketing cost was likely to be even higher. Other notable AAA games include The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption 2, and God of War to name a few.

Features of AAA games

The new generation AAA games are designed to give the ultimate gaming experience. With gaming consoles evolving by the day and PC hardware also becoming more powerful than ever, the popularity and demand for such games are growing rapidly too.

Here are some of the features that set apart the AAA games:

Immersive sound

The sound effects and background music are a priority in the making of AAA games. The makers take into account the subtlest sounds during the game’s sound design. The result is a realistic and immersive effect induced through sounds. It can be an emotional trigger and even a clue to progress in the game.

Deemed as an “independent AAA game” by the developers, the best example of an emotionally triggering immersive soundtrack is that of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. The audio is carefully crafted to enhance the game’s ambiance. Occasionally, sound designers for AAA games record and design completely new sounds that are costlier but tailor-made for the project rather than using sound libraries.

Cutting-edge Graphics

What do you think is one consistent feature of the most popular AAA games of all time? Be it God of War or The Last of Us- the most striking feature is the hyperrealistic graphics of such games.

Characters, environment, weapons, props, and every other asset are designed to perfection in such games. The detailing of the graphics calls for extreme dedication, patience, powerful rendering, and processing tools.

Techniques like ray tracing, photogrammetry, and rasterization are used to create such realistic 3D graphics. Game physics integration is usually significantly smooth as well where the characters’ actions and facial expressions are often mapped using real actors.

Such graphics are created using leveraging cutting-edge technologies like Unity, Unreal Engine 5, Maya, Blender, and more.

High-Production Value

Perhaps the most striking factor about AAA games is the high budget of such games. Usually, seasoned game development companies like Nintendo, Epic Games, Warner Bros Games, Ubisoft, and EA have the financial capacity to design such games or hire game development outsourcing teams for the task.

The AAA games are characterized by higher resolution and framerates. These days we have games that have as high as 60FPS frame rates which operate easily on the latest hardware like PlayStation 5. Altogether, these features lead to the need for a higher production budget compared to all types of video games.

Engaging Storyline

Another major factor to consider is the storyline of the game. The top AAA games have an engaging storyline that keeps the players hooked to the game. The involvement of NCPs, a vast game environment, and the dialogues and interaction of the player with the surroundings altogether built the game environment. This is shown best in The Last of Us as well as in God of War.

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Why develop AAA games?

It is rare for players to know what is an AAA game even though they are enjoying playing one. But from a developers’ perspective, this genre has a high ROI and a passion project. The audience of AAA games continues to grow rapidly. These games are equally attractive to all users, irrespective of age.

While video games are more popular among young adults and teenagers, the mature storyline, need for powerful and expensive gear, and intense graphics make AAA games a favorite among older adults too. As a result, AAA game development is a profitable choice as it can reach the maximum potential users.

These games are usually made by top developers in the world whose products are anticipated by users worldwide till released. The marketing strategy for such games also plays a huge role in their popularity.

In short, developing AAA games is a profitable choice if you can spare the budget without compromising. It can take anywhere between 6 months to 2 years to develop a AAA game depending on the overall complexity of the project. Occasionally to accelerate the project, the companies outsource AAA game art and similar tasks to other companies and scale their workforce as per the need.

Top examples of AAA games

Many games are classified as AAA games and are loved worldwide. Here are a few such games that stand out for their graphics, budget, or both:

God of War

This is perhaps one of the most popular AAA game franchises there is at present. The God of War: Ragnarok specifically is noted for its incredibly fluid gameplay and realistic graphics. The storyline takes place some years after the previous game and has a grander world to explore.

God of war game

It follows Kratos from Greece to Scandinavia. While the gameplay does not change significantly, the third-person perspective and various new weapons are unique to this game. The soundtrack of the game is another gripping feature that sets it apart.

The Last of Us

Developed by Naughty Dog, The Last of Us has grabbed the attention of gamers worldwide primarily because of the gripping and emotional storyline and realistic graphics.

Last of Us game

The journey in the gamescape is grueling in a post-apocalyptic world. Along with the emotionally gripping storyline, it can keep the gamer hooked for hours at a stretch. The game is available on PC, as well as PlayStation.

Hogwarts Legacy

This was one of the most anticipated games among Harry Potter fans. The game is all about re-treading the familiar story with your avatar in HD graphics. It is an RPG game with a stunning open world where you witness many of the familiar locations of Hogwarts.

Hogwarts Legacy game banner

At the same time, it is an entirely new story revolving around the protagonist who is a new student admitted under special circumstances, and a plot that is set much before the novels begin.

Future of AAA games

The gaming industry is constantly evolving as every new release from top developers sets the bar higher than ever before. One may wonder where the competitiveness would take AAA games in the distant future.

The future is rather unpredictable for such games. Most AAA games are graphic intensive and hence require powerful hardware to function smoothly. As a result, they are rather expensive overall and not within the reach of most casual gamers. On the other hand, free-to-play games and cloud gaming continue to rise.

But one can assume these are just ups and downs in the industry and not set in stone. The hardcore gamers community grows by the day and cannot be satiated with anything less than the best- that is what AAA game delivers. Hence, these games are here to stay, even if kept alive by a select global group of enthusiasts.


The art of AAA game development is the epitome of success for most gaming companies. However, the budget required for such games makes it difficult to handle for small-scale as well as medium-scale businesses.

However, businesses that understand the nuances of such games often work as an outsourced organization that specializes in certain aspects of the development process. A Juego Studios we offer all-around game development, animation, and art services. One of the major services include AAA game art development for all kinds of game environment and assets.


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