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Question What happened to Real Time Strategy Games?

ibex333

Diamond Member
Mar 26, 2005
3,969
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I am talking about the likes of Command and Conquer 3 and the older ones, Starcraft, Warcraft, Company of Heroes and Dawn of War.

There's just nothing new coming out! They released Dawn of War III but that was a complete flop.

By the way, I don't consider the likes of Sins of Solar Empire, Supreme Commander and the other similar titles to be "good" strategy games. They do away with a good story-line and mission progression in favor of multi-player. I am much more interested ina solo experience. I also do not like the trend toward stylized/simplified graphics and indie stuff. 8-Bit Armies? Garbage IMO. Running with Rifles? No way. Same goes for "Into the Breach" and Planetary Annihilation. I want AAA quality, and I want a strong bias toward single-player campaign.

Aside from Warcraft 3 remastered coming out (not anytime soon) I just don't see anything else on the horizon. The only exception I can think of is the Wargame series. It's somewhat way too deep, involved and complicated, but still quite good.

Is it that no one cares for strategy games anymore?
 

Regs

Lifer
Aug 9, 2002
16,664
21
81
I am going to take a guess that the sales dried up. They test the market, and the sales are just not there to justify the costs or time from making something else. Software bizz has very little variable costs and all fixed costs. The biggest cost to software publishers is time. They have very limited time to make software that don't cover their fixed costs.
 

Dannar26

Senior member
Mar 13, 2012
689
26
91
I guess as the market matured, certain genres just died out. We recently saw the rebirth of Space Sims with Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous, but even so it seems to be a niche thing.

Better to just reproduce Call of Bro-dy. Because, you know, muh shareholders!
 
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CP5670

Diamond Member
Jun 24, 2004
4,855
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Singleplayer RTS games do seem to be rare these days. I've been going back and playing some of the C&C games, especially some mods for them like Twisted Insurrection and The Forgotten.
 

GodisanAtheist

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2006
3,179
1,700
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The controller and X86 Consoles.

RTS games don't play nicely with a controller, while many other genres do ok. If you're a Dev, are you going to put a bunch of effort behind a game that can only be played on a PC or a game that is more console friendly with a massively larger user base?

Consoles are really just walled PCs at this point, so the effort in porting is vastly reduced as well.

PC exclusives are almost entirely kick starter RPGs, or indie games with pixel art (lots of gems there too). The types of genres that don't involve a heavy investment in production value.
 

zink77

Member
Jan 16, 2012
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Is it that no one cares for strategy games anymore?
It's because of the development of high speed internet reaching the masses aroudn the mid 2000's. Around 2004 world of warcraft came out and that changed gaming in the PC forever, there rise of MMO's and F2P games made most game devs chase mmo money.

Remember up until around 2000 we were getting a nice decent amount of rts games, post 2000 that slowed down a huge bunch because high speed internet penetration finally became fast enough for game companies to push drm and Games as a service (mmo's/f2p).

When activision blizzard had world of warcraft blow up in 2004, the biggest RTS properties on the planet - Warcraft and Starcraft were put on hold for 10 + years as activision focused on world of warcraft and call of duty. Starcraft 2 finally came out but by a different team and you can tell it was the most conservative RTS in memory.

Since Warcraft and starcraft were the top RTS games in the genre, that means the leader in terms of RTS quality stopped making RTS games to focus on Call of duty and world of warcraft.

So it really was the result of Activision switching focus to first person shooters and games as a service with the rise of drm, mmo's and microtransactions.

Add in League of legends in 2009 which is basically hero arena from warcraft 3 and a sizable chunk of kids stupid enough to pay for skins in games they didnt' own and you get a disaster.

The rise of F2P multiplayer games, gambling and paying for skins was the deathknell for the traditional RTS game with a single player campaign.

The reality is Valve and videogame companies got to steal and take control of videogame software, with them controlling the software that means that can do whatever they want in terms of fucking up the design for Microtransaction monetisation.

So basically the stupidity of mankind, the rise of steam/drm/mmo's lead to the death of the traditional singleplayer+multiplayer PC game, so RTS would take a big hit from that.

Finally the last reason is because RTS devs ran out of ideas, they hit a brick wall with Company of heroes and Supreme commander in the mid to late 2000's.

The "Fun" in RTS is hard to find because RTS games are mechanically demanding and no designer has been genius enough to find the fun again and fix the faults with the RTS user interface.

Even Starcraft 2 has that gangrene cumbersome to use RTS interface. It's going to take a genius to overcome some of the software UI issues and restore fun to the RTS genre.
 
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paperfist

Diamond Member
Nov 30, 2000
6,439
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www.the-teh.com
It's because of the development of high speed internet reaching the masses aroudn the mid 2000's. Around 2004 world of warcraft came out and that changed gaming in the PC forever, there rise of MMO's and F2P games made most game devs chase mmo money.

Remember up until around 2000 we were getting a nice decent amount of rts games, post 2000 that slowed down a huge bunch because high speed internet penetration finally became fast enough for game companies to push drm and Games as a service (mmo's/f2p).

When activision blizzard had world of warcraft blow up in 2004, the biggest RTS properties on the planet - Warcraft and Starcraft were put on hold for 10 + years as activision focused on world of warcraft and call of duty. Starcraft 2 finally came out but by a different team and you can tell it was the most conservative RTS in memory.

Since Warcraft and starcraft were the top RTS games in the genre, that means the leader in terms of RTS quality stopped making RTS games to focus on Call of duty and world of warcraft.

So it really was the result of Activision switching focus to first person shooters and games as a service with the rise of drm, mmo's and microtransactions.

Add in League of legends in 2009 which is basically hero arena from warcraft 3 and a sizable chunk of kids stupid enough to pay for skins in games they didnt' own and you get a disaster.

The rise of F2P multiplayer games, gambling and paying for skins was the deathknell for the traditional RTS game with a single player campaign.

The reality is Valve and videogame companies got to steal and take control of videogame software, with them controlling the software that means that can do whatever they want in terms of fucking up the design for Microtransaction monetisation.

So basically the stupidity of mankind, the rise of steam/drm/mmo's lead to the death of the traditional singleplayer+multiplayer PC game, so RTS would take a big hit from that.

Finally the last reason is because RTS devs ran out of ideas, they hit a brick wall with Company of heroes and Supreme commander in the mid to late 2000's.

The "Fun" in RTS is hard to find because RTS games are mechanically demanding and no designer has been genius enough to find the fun again and fix the faults with the RTS user interface.

Even Starcraft 2 has that gangrene cumbersome to use RTS interface. It's going to take a genius to overcome some of the software UI issues and restore fun to the RTS genre.
But there’s a ton of Indy developers now and as far as I can see they aren’t jumping on RTS either.
 

zink77

Member
Jan 16, 2012
98
11
71
But there’s a ton of Indy developers now and as far as I can see they aren’t jumping on RTS either.
You under-estimate how difficult it is to make an RTS game. Most RTS games were made by AAA devs. AKA supreme commander 1 + 2, Company of heroes.

When planetary annihilation ran it's kickstarter it didn't really have the budget to do an RTS, a real AAA RTS takes around 10 million, experienced RTS game devs that worked on supcom and TA that made Planetary annihilation had huge problems finishing the game even with the 2.5 or so million they got. It took them forever to even get a half-way complete game.

Remember company of heroes 2 wasn't all that great and Dawn of war sequels were lackluster.

The reality is it takes a real genius and the funds to make an rts. The reason indie developers aren't taking a stab at it is because the indie devs like petroglyph (8 bit armies) don't get the problems with RTS. AKA great programmers but people who are bad at understanding what drives the fun. Remember games like Warcraft 3 and starcraft 1 were made by teams. That team is the magic. Team composition matters.

Just look at what happened to dawn of war, the team had no idea what was driving the fun or where to take RTS so they floundered around until they made some weird ass moba hybrid. The devs themselves don't know what RTS genre needs and hence it's going to take a genius to figure it out.

It's the same reason why Doom 2 has better single player campaign then Quake 1, and why there's a Doom 2016 but not a real quake single player game. Since quake 4 and Rage tanked something fierce. Thanks to the devs incompetence.
 

BSim500

Golden Member
Jun 5, 2013
1,480
214
106
What happened to Real Time Strategy Games?
The controller and X86 Consoles.
^ This. RTS's "evolved" into MOBA's because the entire genre doesn't fit controllers + 10ft UI too well. From not being able to click on a mini-map with a cursor vs thumb scrolling across huge areas to lacking lots of hotkeys for base building or selecting +10 different unit groups / formations, etc, everything from huge maps to build controls had to be "shrunk" down to fit controllers. Microsoft were also part of the problem closing down Ensemble Studio's (multi-million selling Age of Empires) during their "anything which doesn't fit the XBox must be scrapped" period. The truth is those of us who love "old school" Age of Empires 2 actually never stopped playing, hence why it's amusingly been in the top 100 games played on Steam list all this time well ahead of half the AAA games released and why RTS mod communities like HeavenGames are going strong. (And that excludes the non-Steam retail disc releases which would drive up player count even higher). People just don't notice there are way more long-term players vs the newest Tomb Raider, Far Cry, etc, that come and go simply because those who quietly play older games without making a fuss don't get the same media attention as $50m marketing budgets.

So some RTS's only "went away" in terms of lack of sequels, not players. And personally, I'm good with that, ie, I'd rather slap on the latest widescreen patch and replay something old which perfectly nailed down the mechanics than put up with half-baked overly-monetized sequels aimed at the 'casual audience'. "Grind 1000hrs to unlock the Mayan civilization or purchase via DLC!". No thank you...
 
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Zenoth

Diamond Member
Jan 29, 2005
5,081
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Ironically I'd say, a bunch of RTS games were ported to consoles during the mid-to-late 90s, but it didn't stop them from being popular and successful mostly on PC. At the time "going for consoles" was more of an extra than it was a main goal; the main platform was and had always been the PC. I mean C&C was ported to the PS1 and other platforms (just one example, there's more; such as Warzone 2100 - which was very playable on the PS1 but it didn't stop it from being also popular enough on PC), and there were attempts to turn some RTSes into 3D, such as C&C on the N64 (and C&C 64 wasn't too bad, for a console RTS anyway).

It changed over the years though, it went from "It's a cool thing to have them on consoles too for extra revenue." to "Consoles need to be the priority now, fuck PC.". After that, it started to go downhill with controls and UI; even on PC of course since at that point development and porting was going in reverse. It started for and on Consoles, and then was ported over to the PC. However, the existence of home consoles in and of itself has never been a problem. The main problem was the mentality on the part of both publishers and some developers as well. It was - ultimately - a question and a problem of willingness (and lack thereof, over time) to start development on and for the PC, and then consider porting it to consoles and have adjustments made for the console ports without touching the PC version.

No one ever forced anyone to prioritize consoles, it was just a matter of "Let's try to make more money by making our RTS for consoles because it's a bigger market than PC." It was their belief even if it was erroneous; they still went for it for the mere prospect of it working in the long run. And obviously it didn't work too well since I can't recall any RTS games specifically made for consoles (even if ported to PC after) that are considered contenders and classics in the genre. All the best RTS games I know of and have played were specifically developed for the PC platform, and in some cases only sure it was ported to consoles as well; but their success was made and happened on PC.

Nowadays there's only a few select developers who remember that and try to apply their skills and know-how on PC. They're not all gone, there's a number of pretty solid RTSes for PC that came out in the past couple of years. The popularity isn't there, but the game itself is pretty decent in some cases. We could include more if we go back to about 10 years. Now of course you have to determine (yourself, for your own tastes) what consists of a "Still worth it 'decent enough' RTS game" in your book. If all an RTS can be and should be consist of C&C and Age of Empires and absolutely nothing else than of course the choices are next to none by now. But if you appreciate the likes of Grey Goo (to name recent ones), Halo Wars, StarCraft 2 (excluding the story and campaign; just purely speaking about the RTS in itself), and Ashes of Singularity and so on, then yeah you have a better selection to choose from.

In the end though, nothing stops us from just installing our good 'ol RTSes and just playing those; and in some cases there's some good Remastered / "HD" editions for some of them that are just much better overall and are conveniently available on Steam, etc (AoE 2 HD, Rise of Nations Extended, etc).
 

Borealis7

Platinum Member
Oct 19, 2006
2,779
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meanwhile...the Turn-based Strategy genre is booming! there are tons and tons of good TBSs released last year and more coming.
 

GibbyPruchesi

Member
Jan 18, 2019
32
5
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RTS just doesn't seem so mainstream or viable anymore. It's just mobas and shooters. I guess making rts games is really difficult, especially if you wanna balance for some kind of competitive play. SC2 has just two races and I'm sure that took a while to make. I played rts games when I was younger but only single player story mode, multiplayer was always too hardcore for me. These days if getting into a game is proving to be too difficult I'll just move on. That's probably the problem with rts - just too hard to get into for the more casual gamer, all the multitasking and whatnot
 

clamum

Lifer
Feb 13, 2003
26,219
383
126
I agree that the standard RTS is kinda dead compared to the hayday of the late 90s/early 00s, but there's good titles around. There's Steel Division 2 coming out soon which will be excellent (the current Steel Division is very good; from the same guys behind the Wargame series). There's supposed to be a bigger single player component of the game too AFAIK.
 

shortylickens

No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
78,923
11,848
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I agree that the standard RTS is kinda dead compared to the hayday of the late 90s/early 00s, but there's good titles around. There's Steel Division 2 coming out soon which will be excellent (the current Steel Division is very good; from the same guys behind the Wargame series). There's supposed to be a bigger single player component of the game too AFAIK.
Eugen makes good stuff.
 
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