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Gaming Highs #1: AA Video Game Developers.

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

Hello everyone.

Gaming is great, we all agree, so lets celebrate all that is great and good in gaming with this series, 'Gaming Highs'.

There are so many topics to choose from it’s hard to know where to start.

So I’m going to do the sensible thing and start right in the middle, with something straight out of left field.

AA Developers

Therefore today's topic is:

Small to medium sized AA game companies, that are larger than indie devs, but smaller than AAA developers.”

And if that is not a catchy title, then I don’t know what is… ;-)

For those of you who do not know, indie devs are small teams that create indie games. You will not find these titles on the shelves in shops such as GAME, GameStop or in supermarkets, however they do very well on download sites such as Steam, XBox live, and PlayStation Store etc.

These are games such as Limbo’ and ‘Undertale. Indie devs excel at creating highly innovative games that the AAA companies wouldn’t take the risk on, but unfortunately they do not have the budgets or manpower to create the audio-visual ‘experience’ that the AAA companies can.

AAA companies are the Ubisofts and EAs of the world. These organisations are massive powerhouses with thousands of employees, budgets in the millions, insane TV marketing campaigns and the franchises everyone recognises, whether they are gamers or not.

These are the entities that bring you the likes of 'Call of Duty', 'Battlefield' and 'Assassins Creed'. These are the games with the same wow factor of a SFX fest Hollywood blockbuster, but with the same lack of originality.

How many Super Hero films can you watch until they all blur into one another, and how many ‘modern military first person shooters’ can you play before your trigger finger gets RSI?

Black Ops vs Battlefield vs Medal of Honor - Military Shooter Showdown

Which is which, I can't tell? 

Video by IGN

The developers I am praising in today’s post are those that occupy the middle ground. Those that are large enough to be able to craft great stories, write engaging dialogue, and create large complex games with excellent visuals, physics and audio, whilst still being ambitious and innovative enough to take risks.

These companies are the reason we have such great games and franchises such as 'DOOM', 'Half Life', 'STALKER', 'ARMA' , Subnautica and 'Minecraft'. These masterpieces were not only qualitatively fantastic, but were also different from many of the games that came before them. Sometimes these games were released using business models that were equally innovative too.

True, some of these companies have gone on to be huge, such as Valve and id Software, but even those have stayed true to their innovative roots.

So, to all you small to medium sized developers out there, we salute you…

That's it for this article, see you all in the next.

What are your thoughts on AA developers? What games by AA devs have you been particularly impressed by? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.

Iain is a 40+ author and gamer from England, who started his gaming journey on the Atari 2600 36 years ago. His specialities include obscure cult classics, retro games, mods and fan remakes. He hates all sports games and is allergic to online multiplayer. Since he is British, his body is about 60% tea. He can be reached via Twitter at, and contacted via email at

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