Is the RTS Genre Dying?

Real Time Strategy games, such as Age of Empires and Star Craft, have been loved by gamers for decades. Just like you need the best craps strategy to succeed in the casino, you’ll need a good strategy to succeed when playing RTS games. But, will the genre remain popular for much longer?

Is RTS losing popularity, or are other genres gaining popularity?

RTS fans are quick to note that they haven’t begun to dislike RTS video games, but rather aren’t holding out high hopes for future games in the genre. For example, Age of Empires (one of the most successful RTS games) continues to provide new updates and editions, which allow the franchise to continue hooking existing enthusiasts rather than attracting entirely new players.

Why is this important, you may ask? Well, when it comes to RTS, new game ideas have usually already been made. Just look at the saturation of the market when it comes to RTS games like Clash of Clans. Many could argue that Boom Beach and Clash Royale are simply slightly modified emulations of Clash of Clans, and therefore have limited time in terms of market popularity.

In other words, when one game goes off-trend, multiple others do, too. However, with other genres, there is a wider scope for the topic of the games. Take Call of Duty; the principle is the same, but each edition is quite different. With many RTS games, there is only room for so much innovation.

So, in the years to come, fans may look towards MOBAs like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and even the revival of Fortnite.

Similarly, RTS games arguably require more thinking, compared to other game genres. Some gamers feel like this – and the fact that games take a long time to progress – makes RTS a little boring, and the genre is losing ground because of this.

Gamers want a fast attention fix. Come on, we get annoyed when loading times are too slow! RTS games are pretty slow, and therefore don’t fulfil that need for instant satisfaction. Strategy games are excellent, but only when you can strategize quickly.

RTS can’t keep up with the graphic capabilities of other games

When 3D gaming exploded in the 2000s, RTS struggled to keep up. Hence, we now see many RTS games only available in mobile/tablet and PC versions. Due to the time they take up, it’s not realistic to develop a lot of RTS games on consoles such as the XBOX or PlayStation.

However, there is hope for the RTS genre. Players clearly enjoy the mechanics and design-based nature of real-life strategy games, and don’t get us wrong – there are RTS games out there that will be a success for a while to come. But, in order to keep the genre in the shop window, so to speak, publishers need to enhance both storylines and graphics.

It’s also important that we remember genres and trends come and go. Look at clothing, which is very much a trend-based industry. The flares, baggy styles, and quirky tops and jackets of the 90s are very much making a comeback, and it’s possible that RTS gaming will do the same in years to come.

Creators need to consider the fact that gamers want to be entertained NOW. This may be part of the reason as to why FIFA Ultimate Team is so successful rather than career mode, or CoD online rather than campaign mode; players are constantly involved in the action, and don’t have to wait for sim time to pass.

It’s unlikely RTS will become obsolete, but there are clear areas that could be improved in upcoming real-life strategy games that will keep players engaged, drive sales, and potentially resurrect a dying genre.

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Last Updated: Aug 20, 2020