The homogenization of AAA gaming

  • Terraria, but the backgrounds are not static painted stuff, but terrain you can visit and that change in real time. (so you could see a giant enemy destroying your base in the background parallax image).
  • Hybrid technologies between vectorial and pixel art.
  • Really creative particle systems where you will almost taste the wind, or get a burn from running trough a burning city.
  • Worlds with many characters and backgrounds. Like a 1:1 medieval town where you can enter every house and inspect every thing for clues / loot.
  • Housing / weapon crafting // MMO-lite features

I am aware most features I described are what the current AAA games include. Maybe my imagination is not good enough for this.


Indie games: More innovative and CHEAPER too! They’ve been a win/win since 2009!

Speaking as a developer, what you see is that big expansive games that require a large team need to more and more be good bets in the marketplace. So to make up for the financial risk that they’re taking, publishers are less risky with design. I think there’s still innovation happening in the space, but it happens a little bit with every three-year-long-production-cycle title.

Meanwhile, I had many new experiences on my PC in the last year, with Hob, LOGistiCAL, Everything, and West of Loathing. And I can’t even remotely keep up with all the releases. I just found out about this western visual novel where you make choices by shooting things because it’s also an FPS!


In which Armando Penblade realizes he has never played a game of this “genre.”


I think we see story and characters taking an increasingly large role in differentiating AAA action games because the mechanics are usually quite similar. I mean, if companies keep producing action games with similar mechanics that is one way to really make their game feel different. At least for single player experiences.


Fads can last 10 years. Then the fad fail from grace and is abandoned or replaced by the opposite fad.
The reason we have fads in the software world is because is a baby industry and we are still trying things to see what work and what not. So we work by copying what seems to work, until we have a better operation method.

But not everything we see is explained by this, what has happened recently in the game world is games have converged into a super-genre that have a bit of many genres. This super-genre is a mix of RPG and FPS and survival. This super-convergence is interesting.

My feeling is that the law of fads still reign king, one day this whole genre can fall out of grace and a different one replace it.


There always seems to be a period of standardization in gaming and it usually occurs when console generations drag on too long, as this one has. The thing facing all of AAA gaming right now is that from PS3 to PS4… Xbox 360 to Xbox One… there is no defining feature to justify the upgrade beyond sheer processing power. More importantly, that stagnation was an important selling point of the next gen. You’re not going to get significant attempts at new things when the underlying hardware is just a (rather weak at the time) iteration of a PC.

Where you’ll always see more dynamic change is with new interfaces (VR, touch screens, motion controls…) but then you’re fighting a different uphill climb because some people see that as an attack on the status quo control schemes they can’t see past.

I tend to agree with @triggercut though when he says this…

We’re in a pretty amazing age of gaming right now.

…because I think that’s true. There is a diversity of playstyles available right now that extend far beyond the norm if you’re willing to play things that aren’t just AAA blockbusters. There are more games being produced weekly today than ever before in the history of this hobby. If you can’t find something you like, you’re probably not looking hard enough. It’s definitely out there. It’s gotten to where a contraction is bound to happen sooner or later because there are simply too many games right now.


They have become cookie cutter clones that have no soul.

Design by committee is an apt description.

Wrt to this utter schlock Ubi is grinding out etc.

I don’t think Dishonored 1 belongs in there by a long shot, but the second certainly fell prey to trying to capture lighting in a bottle.


There are so many types of games being released right now that you could totally ignore AAA games and still have a great time if you wanted to. OTOH, if you’ve grown attached to a particular series of games or a franchise, then I guess maybe you could experience disappointment if the newest titles fail at reaching the same heights as previous titles.


Isn’t this more about the convergence of genres that has been happening in the last 5+ years? We’ve always complained about copycats and dominant genres over the past couple decades, but there’s never been anything like the slow merge toward open world shooting RPGs with crafting. [EDIT] I forgot stealth!


I guess a related question would be whether the trend among AAA video games is one of distillation or of watering down.


Yeah, there has been a convergence of genres going on for a time. For example, Action games where stealth has been added as an option, now it’s the standard and people would complain if they can’t do a silent takedown. And of course every game have now RPG progress, that’s like the bare minimum dude!. And hey if you are going to take stuff in a game world, because people like to take stuff, it makes sense to make a crafting system!

After these last five years, playing is… well, it’s enjoyable because we haven’t reached this by chance, we reached this formula with a bit of ‘natural selection’, and it really works (distillation, as Yakattack says), but it feels so samey at this point. Been there, done that.

And in the other hand it’s also ‘watering down’, I miss the times where an AAA game could be a full blown action game, or a game could be a stealth game without action option, or just be different. Now they are all watered down to be the same, and watered down because the formula is about not going very deep in any of these subgenres.

It’s imo a real problem with the AAA game is that mix of action/adventure/stealth/crafting/rpg… but none of the components is especially strong and super well executed. Example? Tomb Raider. Yeah, it has a bit of everything, but the action isn’t as good as a pure action game like Bayonetta or Binary Domain, the stealth isn’t as strong as a pure stealth game like Thief, the crafting obviously hasn’t 1/10th of the depth of a survival/crafting game, the platforming/puzzles are far away of the original Tomb Raiders…
The impression it gives these AAA games is that it’s a very carefully done design, they choose to not go very deep in any of the ‘subgenres’ for fear to alienate their idea of ‘average player’. Not too much stealth because it can scare off players that want action, put puzzles but all very light and easy because we are chasing a bigger audience that people that likes puzzle games, etc.


Not just players, but reviewers are also starting to complain about difficulty (and maybe other types of depth?). It seems the “hardcore” label is slapped on just about anything not piss easy/simple sometimes.

OTOH, for people who have not experienced these subgenres before, the pool needs to be a bit shallower at one end. For instance, one of my first tactical RPGs was Shining Force II, which was just the right difficulty for me at the time. I would have given up if I had just jumped straight into Jagged Alliance 2 with no prior experience, and that’s okay.


Salient point.

Surely it’s because they all want to copy what Ubi is doing.

The rate at which they pump out these AAA games which are all essentially the same must be changing the market.

Hard to see it as a good thing, there is no place for imagination in it.


Found in EG review of AC Origins



I remember Myth:The Fallen Lords coming out in 1997 and thinking “Finally! Someone has made the evolution of the RTS that I’ve grown so bored of.” And then how confused I was ten years later people were still buying, playing and loving Company of Heroes & al , which changed the formula Dune2 established by very little (in the grand scheme of things.)

You guys are still playing AAA open-worldy-action/stealth ish games?




Wait… Company of Heroes was quite a bit different from the standard RTS formula. You picked an odd choice of example there.


It was? You build a base, make troops, send them out to conquer ressources (capture zones or whatever they were called), eventually get to the other side of the half-kilometer map where the enemy base is, take 'em out. Rinse, repeat. Once in a while there was a pure defence or attack mission or whatever… but c’mon.


CoH made captureable points a thing, IIRC. Before that you moved out to a mine/space-mine and sent peasants/robots to get resources. Also the squad level of the units was quite a bit different than before. Plus your units could use cover and firing positions. Plus destructible terrain features. Some of those things were done elsewhere but CoH really nailed it.

I’d definitely say it was “quite a bit different from the standard RTS formula” as Dave points out.


meh. Like prosciutto and mascarpone is to pepperoni n’ cheese, an incremental sophistication to the basic palate. Myth:TFL (10 years previous) was like Chicago deep dish, a whole different kind of pizza pie. Anyway.