What is a B game?

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Propagandapanda

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#1  Edited By Propagandapanda

The title says it all.

If you would like some more context watch: https://www.giantbomb.com/shows/bring-your-b-game/

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Nux

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To me a B game is a game that was made with a budget, usually a small to medium one. The same is true for B movies.

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Propagandapanda

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@nux: Do B games have a specific feel to them?

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Propagandapanda

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GundamGuru

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#6  Edited By GundamGuru

What's the difference between a B-game and and indie game?

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FrostyRyan

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I didn't think B games existed. I just know it to refer to movies.

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shivermetimbers

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I think in that context a 'B game' is a 3 star game that people just tend to think fondly of despite of itself.

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Propagandapanda

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MaikeruRX-78

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#10  Edited By MaikeruRX-78

I am not a lawyer, but I think a B game should meet at least one of these requirements, off the top of my head:

- a lack of advertising or other forms of marketing leading up to, and following, its release; indicating it's perhaps not a game that the publisher cared about as a top priority, or that it's a game being released by a relatively minor publisher such as Majesco, ASCII/Agetec, or others.

- the amount of money and time that went into the game's production--be it the presentation aspects like graphics, animation, and sound/voice acting; the tightness of the game's controls; or all of the above--seems comparatively low to other major titles of its time.

- gameplay that feels derivative of other titles that were popular at its time, as if it was made to cash in on the anticipation of another, similar title that had yet to be released. Total Overdose is a prime example of this. I'd argue that Star Wars TFU also counts.

- if not that, then experimental gameplay elements that make it hard to get into as a casual player; or gameplay with odd quirks that don't quite gel with the kind of game it's trying to be. Games by From Software (King's Field, Demon's Souls, and Armored Core) and Sandlot (EDF and RAD, arguably the latter moreso than the former) both come to mind; as does Capcom's God Hand. I'd say Namco's Xbox FPS Breakdown also fits this definition.

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Propagandapanda

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#11  Edited By Propagandapanda

In the end was The Last Guardian a B game?

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void

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#12  Edited By void

Shouldn't the definition follow what makes a B movie? I.e. low budget and/or poorly made. If it's a high-budget or well made game that just didn't sell enough copies or wasn't popular enough doesn't make it a B game. ( How is Sleeping Dogs a B game ?? )

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odinsmana

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@shivermetimbers: I think you`re pretty on point. In the first episode of Bring your B game they described it as games with a certain budget and scope, but in this newest episode Dan tried to call the new Battlefront game which to me at least is a AAA ass AAA game a B game. I am guessing the actual criteria is that it`s an old game they want to play.

@freedom4556 said:

What's the difference between a B-game and and indie game?

A B- game is in between a AAA game and a indie game. It`s games with a medium sized scope and budget. Something like Stranglehold or The Wheelman.

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warcat777

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An artificial descriptor invented by people who are too lazy to differentiate things better.

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Shindig

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Big publisher mitigating risks with a smaller project. An undercurrent designed to make some money whilst not quite forming a franchise of its own.

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Kidavenger

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BoOzak

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B-movies are low budget movies that have some craft or entertainment value to them. B-games seem to be whatever the hell people want them to be.

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OMGFather

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Not Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Not sure why they did that one.

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Johnny_Sailor

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Look, I love B games! Some of my best friends are B games!

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BeachThunder

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#20  Edited By BeachThunder

@werupenstein: Where does The Witcher 3 fit? That's an independent game with a huge scope and budget.

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Necromanti

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@odinsmana: Dan called a game with a ~$50 million budget a B game? Then I guess everything besides, I dunno, GTA is a B game.

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Relkin

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There are too many definitions for what a "B Game" is, so I don't use it as a term. Some people use it derisively, some use it affectionately, someone thinks game X is a "B Game" and someone else thinks that game X is an "A Game" and is offended by the first person calling it a " B Game". Someone has one set of criteria for what makes a "B Game", and someone else has a completely different set.

As funny as the duders were while talking about this concept during the recent Force Unleashed stream, they made a pretty good argument for us never using that term just by the fact that even just three people can't seem to fully agree on what constitutes a "B Game". The whole, "It's like porn: I know it when I see it" argument doesn't really hold water when there are so many conflicting ideas.

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OurSin_360

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I always thought it meant games that were good but not great and typically made on a budget

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burncoat

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#25  Edited By burncoat

My definition of a B Game isn't necessarily about the money behind it, either for advertising or development, or the studio that makes it. To me, a B Game is a game that earnestly tried to be good and just fell flat on its face for some reason. It might have good concepts or lofty goals, but ultimately failed to meet them, by either boring or bad gameplay, terrible execution, or blantant bandwagoning. The bandwagon part is probably the biggest indicator and reminds me of the multiple "Mad Max" rip-off attempts made where the poster art looked miles better than anything we saw on film. In my eyes, the first Saints Row was a B Game knock-off/copycat of GTA that managed to get lucky when it found a sense of humor unique to its universe and style of game and its later iterations have surpassed the B Game title.

Most adaptations of movies, despite trying to go for a cinematic tie-in, are by definition B Games. Games like Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and Spider-Man 2 are the exceptions that make a risk to go beyond being a generic tie-in.

I think the problem with a lot of B Games and trying to define them as such comes from fans and players not wanting to assign their favorite games a "degrading" title, which might come from a warped sense of pride and need to defend something they might see as an attack on what they like. A lot of B Games are amazing, though, almost entirely because they're kind of bad. The Bouncer is a terrible, terrible game but I fucking love it because it's so stupid. A lot of "good" B Games tend to achieve cult-status where they pretty much transcend the B Game title entirely. Like a couple of movie gems on Best of the Worst (from RedLetterMedia), there are plenty of videogames that a large portion of people would label "terrible" but a positive minority would find it as great.

Ultimately it's a flimsy title to try to assign. Some people take my "quality over quantity (money)" approach, but others are strict about not letting the money aspect go. It all comes down to consensus and how you're willing to acknowledge it or refute it in the end.

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coolarman

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B games are real, they are strong, and also my friend

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stonyman65

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I always thought it meant a mid-tier game with a lower budget, possibly a lower quality than a "AAA" game. For example Skyrim vs Kingdoms of Amalur, Call of Duty vs [insert name of 2000's military fps here], GTA vs. Saints Row etc.... you know, that sort of thing.

You can probably make a good argument for small Indie games being today's B-games. That mid-tier B-game from the old days really doesn't exist anymore. It seems like somewhere around the mid PS3-360 era that those games just kind of disappeared and all we were left with is the two extremes of a $60 AAA game or a $20-$30 budget game you'd buy at Wal-Mart or on the Nintendo store.

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Mirado

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#28  Edited By Mirado

There used to be a whole tier of publishers that dealt in what I would call a B Game (Midway is the first one that comes to mind), which were usually (but not always) movie tie ins, games that capitalized on the success of AAA titles (blatant knock offs or otherwise), minigame collections, or low budget entries in a genre. Some were surprisingly good, most were below average to terrible, but all of them had less advertising money, lower production budgets, and were never expected to be major smash hits, unlike a AAA title.

(Keep in mind I'm primarily referencing a time before the rise of Indie studios, as the "B Game" label holds almost no relevance when you factor them in.)

That's...broad, but due to the fact that the term "B movie" doesn't really translate well to the video game space (a "B Movie" originally meant the less publicized and budgeted half of a double feature), it's easier to point out what a B Game lacks rather than what it is.

If you were a 80s/90s kid, subscribed to a video game magazine, walked into your local Blockbuster/Hollywood Video/local rental store, and picked up a game you never heard of/read about/saw a commercial for, it was probably a B Game.

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Humanity

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Apparently a B game is anything that Dan says it is.

There was a point in the video where Dan attempted to label Bully as a B-game.

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mylifeforAiur

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#30  Edited By mylifeforAiur

Is Destroy All Humans a B game? I loved that game. Play that please.

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Zippedbinders

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https://www.giantbomb.com/bee-movie-game/3030-18492/

It was even developed by Beenox. Doesn't get anymore Bee than that.

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Captain_Insano

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#32  Edited By Captain_Insano

@humanity: I haven't watched the video yet. I can understand that argument to an extent. Bully is certainly a "B" tier Rockstar game. It's a great game, but it didn't exactly get the push, especially around marketing that the other GTA games of that era got. GTA was their "A" tier and Bully definitely on the "B" tier for that particular company.

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duke_of_the_bump

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Dave_Tacitus

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In the days before Big-Indie came in and muddied the waters, a B-Game was a title where the publishers felt they couldn't get away with charging the full AAA price at launch.

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duke_of_the_bump

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I don't think price or budget should be a factor. Is Katamari Damacy a B game? It cost $20 and its budget was less than a million dollars, but I don't think you can call a universally beloved game "B-tier".

To me, a B-game is like a B movie. It's made by people who aren't necessarily experts, it's not high art, it's not a blockbuster, it has glaring flaws, but it's unique and memorable and you admire it for its ambition. The quintessential example to me would be "Deadly Premonition".

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Raven10

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So the term has a lot less meaning than it did maybe 10 or 15 years ago. So let me give some of you young'uns a little history lesson.

When the home game market began Atari was the sole creator of games for its systems. The same was true for eventual competitors like Intellivision and Colecovision. Atari, though, didn't view game creators as artists as much as engineers. And so they were not given credit for their efforts in the same manner they would if they had made a movie or book. Some of these creators broke off from Atari to start the first third party publisher, Activision. After the game crash of 1983, Nintendo and Sega emerged as the new major players in the game console space, and both companies openly accepted third party games on their systems. Nintendo created its now infamous "seal of quality", which all third party developers had to agree to before making NES games. One of the requirements was that no publisher could release more than five games on the NES per year, and games released on the NES could not be released for any other system. This strategy kept game quality high but was limiting to publishers. When Sony came around in the early 90's with their soon to be unveiled Playstation they put no similar restrictions on content. Any publisher who paid the fee could release a game regardless of quality.

When the Playstation really started taking off this began having an unintended effect. Publishers did put all of their big titles on the system, but they began making budget titles for release as well. These low cost, low quality titles were designed to shore up financials during the slower months of the year. Such titles were referred to as B games. It's not the A team, it's the B team. There were also far more publishers around then than now. For example, the modern day Square Enix consists of a half dozen smaller publishers including Square, Enix, Eidos, Taito, and more. With far more limited resources, risky bets were more difficult to take and so these mid-range titles served to offset some of those risks. Other small publishers were what you might call a B publisher. Acclaim, THQ, and Majesco were among the most famous of these which only put out B games.

So what did the B game in? Two things actually. On the one hand making high-definition games required far more resources than could have been imagined in the past. Most mid-range and small publishers could not survive in a market where they had to invest virtually all their capitol into a couple risky projects in order to compete. And so the vast majority of these companies merged or were purchased by bigger companies. These larger conglomerates had less need for B games in the first place, and it was becoming far more difficult to make a large scale project on the cheap. So the mid-size game essentially vanished during the second half of last generation.

In their place was the second thing. Digital distribution through Steam and Xbox Live allowed small developers to self-publish their titles. Without the need for a large production and distribution network there was no need for a publisher. Many developers also preferred working with a couple close friends over working in teams of 200+ people. And so we basically had two very distinct tiers of game. AAA on the one end and indie on the other.

The B game has started to see a small resurgence recently due to a couple factors as well. First off you have Unity. This game engine required no upfront payment from developers and could be used to make games in a fully 3D environment. The success of Unity eventually caused Unreal, Source 2, and CryEngine to be offered under similar terms. A team of a dozen people could make a solid looking title in these engines for a fraction of what it would have cost them five years ago. Combine that with crowd-sourced funding and you have a cottage industry. The other key component is the rise of game development in Central and Eastern Europe. For many years Eastern Bloc games were known for being obtuse and buggy, but cheaper tools and local publishers have helped change that. Publishers like Paradox, Nordic, and Deep Silver have made use of the much lower cost of living in these nations to make AAA quality titles at Indie level costs. Just in the past couple months we've seen a handful of these titles released and quick-looked. Styx, Sniper: Ghost Warrior, The Surge and Technomancer come to mind, although the latter was made in France. Those are B games. They have the ambition of a AAA title but the budget of an indie, with all the ramifications of that.

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deactivated-630479c20dfaa

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Star Wars the force unleashed is NOT a B game I know that much :b

I always thought a B game constituted high ambitions barred by budgetary constraints. Or just a good but shallow experience with not that same amount of polish as triple A games. I don't think games of lower quality becomes automatically B games. Like if an AAA game that got scored at 7 (out of 10) or 3 (out of 5) it does not make it a B game.

Examples I consider B games.

Dark Sector

Bionic Commando

Fear

Black

So games with the same or slightly lower budgets. When you get down to the really small teams I consider it either an indie game or just a game from the 90's or earlier as times were different back then :b

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deactivated-630479c20dfaa

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@kingbonesaw said:

I don't know if budget is something that should be taken into account since I consider a game like Advent Rising to be a B Game. When I think of B Games I think of the games that would get a lot of advertising in issues of OPM or other magazines. Examples include:

  • Total Overdose
  • Mushroom Men
  • Legendary
  • Dead to Rights
  • Legend of Kay
  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger

I feel like we acknowledge that AAA games are games with the highest budgets. So I feel like what separates a B game from an AAA one, at least back in the day (when you had to license engines for crazy fees, today unity has made this much easier) is infact budget. If score was the most important part of it, a lot of AAA games would be considered B games, but to me, that seems crazy, you would not call the Star Wars prequels for B movies just because of their sub par quality.

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Humanity

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@humanity: I haven't watched the video yet. I can understand that argument to an extent. Bully is certainly a "B" tier Rockstar game. It's a great game, but it didn't exactly get the push, especially around marketing that the other GTA games of that era got. GTA was their "A" tier and Bully definitely on the "B" tier for that particular company.

I guess this is where all the confusion rises from. I'm not saying you're wrong, because I can't definitely state that I'm right, but I think the definition of "b-game" for you and me is kind of different in this case, as is for many in this thread.

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Dave_Tacitus

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To me, a B-game is like a B movie. It's made by people who aren't necessarily experts, it's not high art, it's not a blockbuster, it has glaring flaws, but it's unique and memorable and you admire it for its ambition. The quintessential example to me would be "Deadly Premonition".

Which was a £20 game when it came out. B tier.

It seems like a lot of people want their B tier games to be their little engine that could. Fair enough, but it's never how I understood the term. :)

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BrunoTheThird

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#42  Edited By BrunoTheThird

For me a B-game is one that has a lot of the qualities of bigger games but isn't part of a well-regarded AAA franchise; had a sub 20-mill development cost; had little advertising; and sold less than, say, 2 million copies in the first few years of its release.

A B-series can become a AAA one -- Max Payne 1 vs. 3, for instance, or Dark Souls 1 vs. Bloodborne -- but a AAA series can't push out a B-game (Mass Effect 3 Vs. Andromeda) even if it's lower quality, just because of that foundation of pedigree. Side-games of AAA series are the closest they get to B territory I think.

Just my view. Deadly Premonition isn't even a C-game. It is loved for all the wrong reasons, and with a certain level of irony.

Easily identified (and also great) B games: Remember Me, Binary Domain, Dragon's Dogma, GUN, Singularity, etc. Dark Souls 1 may be my B-game king, though it's harder to label some Japanese games as B ones, because they're known for recycling older engines, mechanics, and all that. Efficient and cheap isn't the same as lower-par, necessarily.

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thesquarepear

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Gaff

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To me, AAA always were the high budget, graphically intense, extremely polished games. All aspects of those games had millions of man hours poured into them, whether it was the engine, textures, sound design, level structure and game mechanics.

B games... Well, those games dropped the ball in some areas and, if you were lucky, that was in favour of one aspect, which it tried to do very well. Tried to.

Of course, this doesn't mean that AAA games are all good games, and that B games are all bad games. Mass Effect: Andromeda? Terrible AAA game. Nier: Automata? An incredible B game.

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forteexe21

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B-games are games that isnt made by hundreds of people like say a major publisher game.

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mems1224

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#46  Edited By mems1224

Apparently they're just games Dan likes

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scrappypixels

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DrStrangepork

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Buck Bumble

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BonOrbitz

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It sure ain't Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

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Fezrock

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I think of a B game as one that's trying to go for the same scope and feel of a AAA game, but didn't have the budget to achieve it. Sometimes they are quite fun games in their own right, other times they feel like pale imitations of better games.

Spiders Studios (The Technomancer, Bound by Flame, etc.) is an example of a studio making B games still.

However, a B game is not a massive, big budget game that just isn't that good; that's simply a not that good AAA game.

And I think a B game is also not a lower budget game that's going for something completely different than AAA games; for instance, Divinity: Original Sin. That game was developed by an established studio and put out by a publisher, so I don't think the 'indie' title applies, but I also wouldn't call it a B game. I'm actually not sure what the correct title for games like this is.