Real-Time Strategy or RTS games are exactly what they say on the tin: there is no turn-based gameplay, everything takes place in ‘real-time’. The normal set-up involves gathering resources in order to build facilities that can produce units in order to take on an enemy threat. Since everything is in real-time, there is no knowing when the enemy may begin to launch their own attack and being caught unprepared can lead to an early game-over.
It’s a challenging genre which requires lots of micro-management, and as such many could be turned away from it in favour of other strategy subgenres with more breathing room. For example, 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate) games are hugely popular, swapping real-time gameplay for a wider range of mechanics. Meanwhile, MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games, which incorporate a significantly downscaled version of the traditional RTS format, have grown to dominate the eSports scene.
It would seem as though other subgenres have supplanted RTS’s, but to suggest that the RTS genre is dying out would be to ignore a particularly recent surge in output. In this year alone, remasters of Age of Empires, Warcraft, Company of Heroes and Command & Conquer games have been released to mostly high acclaim.
While not bringing anything wholly original to the table, they show that an audience for RTS games is still going strong. While Blizzard announced this week that they were ending their decade-long support of StarCraft 2, the news was swiftly followed by Frost Giant Studios, a breakoff group of ex-Blizzard employees, stating their plans to create a brand new RTS title.
Though it may have been overshadowed at times, the RTS subgenre is in a healthy position, and considering recent and upcoming releases we will likely see a renewal in popularity from here.