It takes a lot to produce a AAA-title that actually has true merit and substance. While most titles in that league are technically competent and enjoyable, that certain something that adds a deeper level of value and merit is often lacking. There aren't many studios that can pull it off, and with the recent closing of Irrational, we're now officially down one. Who's left, and who could potentially step up to the plate?
There are perhaps a dozen or less publishers and studios out there competing in the AAA-game space, and most aren't exactly interested in providing an experience that offers anything more than "meat and potatoes" gaming: competent and well-crafted, but ultimately a shallow experience.
There's a short list of studios capable of elevating high-profile releases in a similar fashion to Irrational's mantra, and fingers are crossed that they can pick up the slack, and continue to deliver titles that not only have a high level of polish, but also really bring something of merit and depth to the medium.
That short list includes studios like Naughty Dog, Rockstar, and Bioware. With last year's release of The Last Of Us, Naughty Dog proved that not only are they the kings of third person action, but they're also capable of delivering a gut-punch of a story--one that sticks with you long after the credits roll. With Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar proved that while GTA may be their bread and butter, they're not scared to stretch out into different genres and narratives. When Bioware is on their a-game, few can match their ability to form a cohesive narrative arc, filled with characters that are true individuals with needs, wants and personalities.
In the coming years, I wouldn't be surprised to see these game makers push things even further, and keep the AAA-space filled with meaningful experiences. It's important to the continuing evolution of the medium, as well as offering players something besides the same old/same old year after year.