Thursday, December 22, 2011

Strategy games

The Oxford English Dictionary defines strategy as "a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim; the art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a war or battle." Note the complete absence of the need for a high number of clicks per second in that definition. So once you realize that by definition the so-called "real time strategy games" aren't really about strategy, you'll see that there are very few strategy games on the market.

I was thinking about that when browsing the Steam holiday sales, and found very few games that I would call strategy games. The closest this year was Heroes VI, and even that is half a role-playing game these days. The only company I saw on Steam making lots of strategy games is Paradox, but they don't make games that are accessible to the general public.

The best strategy game with units on a hex-map I played this year was Memoir '44 Online, and that works mostly because it is an adaptation of a board game. And it has an interesting business model, Free2Play with an added "pay per game" if you want to play on different maps. I skipped Panzer Corps, because it looked very much like a Paradox game, with 400 unit types to remember. I am not looking for games targeted at grognards, I am looking for strategy games that are easy to pick up and play. Like the old Fantasy Wars and its successor Elven Legacy.

I am wondering where the next generation of strategy gamers is supposed to come from, if the only games available are those for fast clickers or veterans. People don't start playing hyper-complex strategy games if they haven't played and enjoyed somewhat more accessible games before. And even people who have played strategy games before often don't want a game that takes hours to learn, given typical time constraints.

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