Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A Tale of Quality and Capital Letters - Microsoft's "AAAA" Title

 For those times when three "a"s just aren't enough.

Thanks to Rad for pointing this one out to me.

Apparently Microsoft, unhappy with only having three vowels in a row when it comes to the quality of gaming titles, is setting forth on a bold new project: making what would appear to be the world's first "AAAA" quality title. You can see the job posting which makes use of the AAAA here; Microsoft is currently looking for an Executive Producer to: "lead and develop a world-class team who will own the creation and delivery of a AAAA experience".

You'd be forgiven if you thought that the extra A was simply a typo, but given that AAAA is mentioned twice more in the job description that's apparently not the case. Given that I'm a Canadian and thus somewhat of an expert on "Ehs" myself (yes, it's a bad joke, no, I'm not sorry for making it) I figured that the least I could do is weigh in on this development.

While I can't really fault Microsoft for trying in this case, I'll be honest when I say that such a statement about quality comes off as unintentionally goofy. Certainly most people have heard of AAA quality; it's generally used to denote something that has a high standard whether it be food, cars, games, you name it. That being said AAA quality is something that qualifies as somewhat of a mystery, it's kind of a thing where "you know it when you see it" most of the time. Someone can certainly tell you if a certain thing is AAA quality, there are people whose jobs are putting those kinds of standards to the test, but in the end AAA quality is ultimately at least a bit subjective. Not only that, but such a thing is usually completely out of the hands of the people that are actually behind the product.

That's why it comes off as a little goofy when Microsoft touts this project as a AAAA quality one. They can gather all the right components, throw all the right names around, put in piles of cash, and still ultimately wind up with something completely mediocre or even just plain bad. The odds of a real disaster happening depend entirely on just who ends up working on the project and what the ultimate nature of it is, but to me this sounds eerily close to something that John Romero might have said about Daikatana except probably with less mentions of bitch making on the part of Microsoft, and we all know how Daikatana ended up (note: if you don't know how Daikatana ended up please look it up, it's hilarious in a sad sort of way).

Quality is ultimately something that other people, the ones who the work is intended for, will determine. Microsoft can certainly claim to be making a AAAA game, just as I can claim to be the best video game blogger on the Internet (HA! I wish), but those claims will ultimately either be substantiated or torn apart by the audience, not just because saying them makes it inherently true. This does get me thinking about quality in general though, so you can probably expect the topic for tomorrow to be talking about that a little, or more likely a lot.

1 comment:

  1. Oh boy! I can't WAIT for Setpieces and Ironsights: Real is Brown to hit store shelves! Boy, I sure hope they pump all their money into multiplayer and marketing; what's the point of a meaningful, thought provoking story when you can press X to punch someone's jaw off with their new Punchphoria engine?


    AAAA, huh? The only way I see it being any more A-ey than AAA releases is the amount of money they throw at it. But I guess anything can happen.

    (As long as there are lots of chest-high walls.)


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