Why is the RTS genre dead?

Branching off from the Age of Empires III thread, I thought this would be a good tangent to follow:

So why is the RTS genre dead/dying?

Because RTS sucks on consoles.

I question your very premise, that RTS is dead. It isn’t dead. It is just taking a different form than people are used to.

How about because it isn’t??

I love your quote from that guy: well, there’s Starcraft II if you care about that.

It’s a niche game, after all.

How many games need to come out in a genre per year and still have it declared dead? This reminds of one of those PC is domed threads.

Because it is a middle tier genre, a bit like flight sims.
It’s VERY hard to do a conventional RTS as a one or two person indie studio. So you need a big company, which means shareholders and likely investment from people who don’t play games. These people:

  1. fear that the RTS is too complex a game to appeal to the mass market
  2. fear that these games don’t work on consoles, which they see as the whole market

Also, RTS games tend to be very open and freeform, and effectively endless. I suspect it worries some people that they are making a game that isn’t easily ‘finished’, so the customer won’t be waiting to buy the next one.

But hey, I love em. Will someone PLEASE make a company of heroes II now?

Company of Heroes did well, didn’t it? As did DoW1/2.

This is my first impression too.

RTS is intimidating to new players in multiplayer. RTS requires extensive AI programing in singleplayer. People notice graphics, not AI.

If anything is dying, it is the AAA RTS. Starcraft 2 an exception, sales just aren’t high enough to justify the increasing development costs.

As cliffski said, there will be plenty of RTSs in the future, but it will continue to be a middle-tier genre.

It’s definitely not as healthy a genre as it was. I was surprised that Company of Heroes didn’t reinvigorate the genre as for me it was such a significant step forward. I can’t think of a single RTS that’s clearly improved on CoH since it was released.

EDIT: And Starcraft 2 is a bad example because A) It takes millennia for Blizzard games to come out and B) It looks too derivative to be a significant step forward for the genre, regardless of how shiny and slick it is.

The RTS genre as a whole is greatly diminished, and the PC traditional RTS genre is almost entirely dead. The majority of activity in it from here forward will be from console, PC, mobile, and social platform games that incorporate the genre’s mechanics and ideas, sometimes to interesting effect (Brutal Legend, EndWar). Or pick over the bones for scraps, if you’re a traditional RTS fan.

My statement about Starcraft 2 is meant to reflect my own lack of interest in the title. Obviously it will do quite well. How well it will do is not certain: the movement away from core gaming and PC gaming as the sole focus of the industry makes me wonder if the sales will be somewhat diminished, compared to what they could have been even a few years ago when there was a little bit more activity in the genre. Certainly don’t count on Starcraft 2 to revive RTS or anything like that, though it might get publishers to greenlight a few games they would’ve otherwise passed.

In the age of the compulsory multiplayer component, most games across all genres are like this. I, too, wonder how sales of other titles are affected by the extensive multiplayer, co-op, and skirmish modes included in most major, contemporary games.

CoH 2 would be divine, but I don’t think we’ll ever see a full sequel released as a traditional RTS. There is Company of Heroes: Online in development. The West is, I think, slated to get it in the coming year, and it’s already in beta in South Korea and China. It’s a persistent, free-to-play evolution of Company of Heroes. Pretty cool from what I’ve read.

I think Relic is switching over to consoles and MMOs for all their major releases going forward, but I have a hunch that the currently unannounced competitive multiplayer mode for their upcoming Diablo/God of War hybrid console game, Space Marine, will be influenced more than a bit by Brutal Legend’s multiplayer mode. Ok, so it’s a hope more than a hunch, but they did something like that with The Outfit’s multiplayer. I’d love a Warhammer take on the multiplayer in Brutal Legend and The Outfit even more than a big-budget sequel to the best traditional RTS of the decade. It’s such a fresh spin on the genre.

I’m not sure RTS is dying, I just people are just confusing the massive number of RTSs over the past few years as something normal. RTS just took over from FPS as the PC premier genre for a while. Right now I’d say we’re seeing a glut of RPGs.

I don’t agree with that, AI has been worthy of a bullet point since Half-Life.

Yeah, as I see it CoH was a breath of fresh air for PC RTSs. I think it was a giant leap forward from the “standard” rts fromula (à la C&C, Warcraft 3).

Why is the genre dying, Warning? Could you explain in more detail the reasoning behind it? What time was the peak of RTS gaming for you guys.

I do hope that Relic is making Homeworld 3.

  1. It’s very hard to make good console RTS game. This locks the genre out of a huge percentage of the market/gamer demographic.

  2. A great deal of what people like in RTS games can be achieved with simpler, smaller, cheaper games. i.e., I’d argue that Tower Defense games have sucked away a lot of the casual players who might have looked for RTSs years ago.

  3. The near total collapse of the turn based strategy genre has also eliminated one of the paths that led up and coming gamers to RTS.

  4. I personally feel that a bad (and by “bad” I mean lopsisded and not instructional in a way that rewards future attempts to play) RTS loss in MP is a. more likely and b. more demoralizing to a new/casual player than a bad loss in most any other genre of MP game.

I don’t know that it is but I’m late to the party on most of these titles. I just bought Supreme Commander, Company of Heroes and Age of Empires in the last year and haven’t really played through them enough to see what newer stuff is out there or coming out. I’m probably not the best person to argue one way or another but I did think those were intriguing comments I quoted and I wanted to get a bigger perspective from everybody else.

Oddly enough, the first PC game I ever purchased and finished was Dark Reign, an RTS.

I’d agree that the RTS genre is dying, or at least hanging back in the shadows of the street that is the mainstream video game market. I’m wondering if, along with the obvious awkwardness of playing an RTS with a joypad, if the execution is wrong.
Supreme Commander, which is as far as I’m aware was the last big name RTS of note that allows vast numbers of units (correct me if I’m wrong), still allowed control of units at the individual unit level. I’m not sure enough is being done at the macro level to develop the genre further. I’m thinking that most people associate RTS with finicky unit grouping, pathing, zerg style gameplay with the odd twist (Warcraft 3 heroes, Supreme Commander’s map, Company of Heroes’ suppy lines), but ultimately still the same old.
I don’t have a solution to the above of course, I hardly think about RTS games any more, but it’d be a fair bet that if the RTS makes a return it’ll be due to innovation, or Starcraft 2 boosting interest in other games in the same genre.

I think most people here have the gist of it:

Non-console friendly controls.

Overly aggressive multiplayer components including a very poor punishment to reward ratio and lack of effectively implemented co-op modes.

High production costs and long development times.

A small but fanatical audience that drives out innovation in the space.

Obviously some of these overlap, but I can’t imagine how you could convince anyone to fund you if you aren’t Blizzard.

Generally, yes. I’d like to add that I’d probably buy a really great RTS that took a few chapters from the book of Z, as that game was hilariously great. And a bit of a merciless bastard too, actually.

I’d say you nailed it here.