Ask me about VTM
- Mar 23, 2022
Actually, 80% of RTS players never go into multiplayer. But creating good SP content is expensive and most devs cannot afford toI think the reason survival RTS haven't caught on is simply that the PvE crowd in RTS (already a niche genre) is just too small. I don't have any stats to back this up, so I'm going by a mixture of gut instinct and anecdotal experience here (see below), but my impression from playing RTS in the past is that the majority of the community does tend to gravitate towards PvP. Not necessarily "competitive PvP", meaning - it's not all 1v1 small map rush games, in fact I think the bulk of an RTS community will gravitate towards more casual PvP - big maps, team games, where a lot of the time there's not as much early game skirmishing and if a player is having trouble their team will often help them out. But PvP nonetheless. If not PvP, then a comp stomp game, but I don't think solo skirmish was ever something really popular.Yeah, even that IGP game I mentioned is releasing MP as F2P. Campaigns will still cost money, so for 80 percenters like me it's not gonna be different from the Golden Age of RTS.
But microtransactions aren't really gonna fly with the RTS crowd due to a lot of players being long timer players of the genre and being resistant to microtransactions. Tempest Rising devs said this in an interview, so I know they're not gonna focus on microtransactions.
RTS devs are stuck between a rock and a hard place. MP just isn't a good revenue stream compared to PvE (it's been known for years that 80% of customers don't move past PvE), but developing RTS with decent PvE content is prohibitively expensive due to its low RoI from being a niche genre. Blizz could just throw money at the problem, but others devs cannot. It's left many RTS gamers with too high expectations since most RTS devs simply cannot afford to add what are considered basic QoL features.
Strangely, "survival RTS" like They Are Billions and Age of Darkness do cater exclusively to the PvE crowd but that subgenre doesn't seem to have caught on. I'm not sure why, but I suspect it may have something to do with their lack of diversity in terms of playable sides? You have one playable side, and an NPC-only side with only one type of unit that sends wave after wave until your base dies. They did eventually add campaign modes with more variety in missions, but still hasn't caught on or fixed the lack of playable sides' diversity.
Then we have games like Silica trying to create a hybrid of FPS and RTS, mooching off the FPS market to get that RoI. That subgenre hasn't worked out in the past, but even in Early Access Silica has received a surprisingly positive reception.
RTS is just really hard to develop (you need pathfinding, AI, networking code, etc that isn't found in other genres and you have to reinvent the wheel with every game rather than piggybacking off Unity or Unreal) and the current market is not kind. RTS is one of the few situations where I think advances in AI generation of content would help indie devs more than it would make the cyberpunk dystopia worse.
As to why that is, I think it's a mixture of factors - AI not being very engaging to play against (because it's fucking hard to do well), and perhaps an out of context skirmish just not having much appeal. Anyways, I think people who are going to play some strategy game solo will tend to gravitate more towards games that provide a richer solo experience - Total War type games, 4X, grand strat. RTS is fundamentally a multiplayer-oriented genre, and it's always kind of sucked at working outside that domain.
Agree 100% on development difficulty, by the way. I think it's probably up there with MMOs as one of the most difficult genres to make. In particular, because, despite people not really playing RTS in general, you're usually sort of expected to have a solo campaign just to introduce your setting and get players somewhat invested in the world, at least long enough to build up a community that they can get invested in instead. So on top of all the technical requirements you're forced to dump a lot of time and energy into making a campaign that most players will play once or twice and then never touch again as they spend hundreds of hours online.
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