Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Ironclad Games Claims RTS is a Fading Genre

Head of Ironclad Games, Blair Fraser, has recently claimed that the Real Time Strategy genre is slowly dying out. Having produced the title Sins of a Solar Empire, Fraser's opinion carries some considerable weight behind it and considers the problem to lie in its focus audience.

In an interview with RockPaperShotgun, he claimed that RTS had become "very niche now" and that the problem is "the demographics changed". While he does accept that titles such as Company of Heroes and Starcraft II have continued success the director believed that most would no longer get big numbers behind them. With no active community to support them.
To back his statements he commented upon the failure of Age of Empires Online as a specific example, with the title gaining no further updates commenting upon its pricing system and developer's approach:

"They had to hit a certain price point that F2P players find valuable. The Team Fortress 2 high-five animation was the same price as an entire faction in Age of Empires Online. The return on investment there just doesn't make any sense. And that's why Age of Empires Online isn't generating anymore content, and that's why we're not charging for army-type units."

The final comment related to the online battle arena update for SoaSE, Sins of a Dark Age. The reason for its ongoing success, Fraser stated, was because of his title's efforts to move away from the traditional RTS model in a number of ways.

While some of his comments might ring true, questions have to be made about their validity to the genre and reasoning. Very few high quality RTS titles are made and compared to other successful dominating video game genres and comparatively innovation can be considered rare. This relatively small number has also failed to grow over the years with some major series with loyal fanbases seeing no new titles or had the life throttled out of them by the demands of their development company. Homeworld has not seen any sign of life beyond fan mods for years, Dawn of War last had a true base-building RTS title in 2008 and Command and Conquer 4 was an outright disaster in terms of fan response.
That being said there are still efforts being made with Petroglyph Games creating the much anticipated End of Nations and online multiplayer has kept many series going which have not seen installments in years.
Only time will tell how accurate Mr Fraser's opinions are for this genre.

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