Why are we not pushing frame rate?
Why are we not pushing physics?
Why are we not pushing atmosphere?
Why are we not pushing AI? (You mentioned AI but early reports of newer games like say Cyberpunk have said the AI is lacking).
Why are we not pushing agency?
Why are we not pushing story telling?
Why are we not pushing innovation in actual game play?
We get larger maps, more plant life, more buildings that look like buildings. AAA fails because their games are made by a group with no singular vision. They only get done what the group can collectively agree upon. Which is larger maps, RNG, procedural generation, textures and resolution. The only reason you’re seeing ray tracing is it’s a new way to make things look pretty.
The problem is, games are interactive as a medium. But those that make AAA want them to be movies. Passive, 30fps, beautiful sit down and strap in theme park rides.
I disagree that AAA is pushing boundaries outside of those few things. What they are pushing, is something cosmetically appealing enough to get mass market sales.
Demon’s Souls was considered and absolute flop, a failure. UNTIL people picked it up and tried it, saw how quirky and fucking shit janky it was and liked it.
THEN it became a AAA Dark Souls franchise.
EA, Ubisoft, Activision and the other big AAA people are just masturbating.