EA: AAA Development in Decline

by William D'Angelo, posted on 05 July 2013 / 6,113 Views

EA’s chief creative director Richard Hilleman has said that the number of AAA titles that are currently in development is at a 10 year low. There were as many as 125 developers working on AAA titles just seven or eight years ago.

"What is true today is that there are fewer triple-A games being built than at the same point in the previous generation," Hilleman said in a published DICE Europe whitepaper. "I’ve done some calculations that say there were about 125 teams in the industry worldwide working on what I’d call a triple-A game on a console, and that was seven or eight years ago."

The number of developers working on AAA titles title is around 25, down significantly from 125. However, due to the increase in technology the size of the teams increased four fold.

"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 stabilized."


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17 Comments

Rawnchie14 (on 05 July 2013)

More a case of publishers not having a clue of what to do when folks get tired of the 10th sequel of a AAA franchise they had rode for years - and they have to think of something new. God Forbid they take risks.


wolfofthepack (on 05 July 2013)

well said dude! well said!


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Locknuts (on 06 July 2013)

The old catch 22...


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Moonhero (on 05 July 2013)

EA bought 100 of them, so of course there's less.


Hydrocrush (on 05 July 2013)

just die already EA


sethnintendo (on 05 July 2013)

How cute that EA still considers themselves AAA developer/publisher.


Suke (on 05 July 2013)

The declined of triple AAA games been in affect since 2009, where have you been. This always why I'm still somewhat worry about the PS4 and Xbox One. So much ram and power but the fear of not being fully use due to development cost.


thekitchensink (on 08 July 2013)

Triple AAA games. So, like, NINE A's?? Damn, those are awesome games :O


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Nem (on 05 July 2013)

Its more that they feel they need to astronomically increase budgets and force multiplayer on every game and all that. I said before, there was a games industry before AAA games. There will be one after aswell. And probably a better one that focus back on fun games rather than on cutting edge technology.


Locknuts (on 06 July 2013)

I read that the makers of Metro Last Light spend a fraction of the budget of other AAA games. This indicates to me that there is a lot of efficiency to be exploited in AAA games development.


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Locknuts (on 06 July 2013)

At least the few AAA games you do get can't afford to suck. Also, indie devs are picking up the slack. Some of the stuff those indies are putting out is seriously impressive.


Resident_Hazard (on 07 July 2013)

Many of those AAA games still suck, and possibly worse, they are more and more cookie-cutter and similar.


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Michael-5 (on 08 July 2013)

What I hear "We want more money! We don't know what gamers want, but we want more money!"


NeoRatt (on 06 July 2013)

This is all about cost vs return on investment. A AAA title where you develop the game engine from the ground up is about $100 million to create. Because most games do not sell over a million copies it is hard to justify developing a AAA title.


KingCherry (on 06 July 2013)

This won't end well! Team numbers/price of development v sales doesn't match that of the pre-HD generation. One poor seller now and you're bust. A 40 person team could develop the equivalent of a AAA title in the mid nineties in 12-15 months. Now it takes teams of upto 200+ 20-36 months to get the sales, and unless it's a FIFA/COD/Skyrim, the games value drops within weeks. That's not sustainable for the average developer.


teamsilent13 (on 06 July 2013)

I like AAA titles. I think cod does get better...as opposed to halo which gets worse. It's not AAA titles that are the problem, but the laziness of the developers or in cods case hatred by people who suck at the game and have a bad multiplayer KD.


guiduc (on 06 July 2013)

What is a AAA game by definition? I mean, a game doesn't need to go through a high big-budgeted development process to be AAA. AAA is only excellence, which games like Limbo or Journey can achieve.


think-man (on 05 July 2013)

Games don't need to be AAA to be good! games were made on low budgets once upon a time and they were considered amazing.


AgentZorn (on 05 July 2013)

And it's only going to get worse because big publishers don't even know what makes a game good anymore. Their thought process is "more money=better game".


Vashyo (on 05 July 2013)

People buying yearly sequels and DLC for these sequels = less other AAA games bought :/


KungKras (on 05 July 2013)

And so are they ^^


Bladeforce (on 05 July 2013)

I've said all along this is hte last generation of consoles the games market will move to tablets , pc and smartphones