Gamers Have Become Less Interested in Strategic Thinking and Planning

Has your Strategy percentage reduced in last decade?

  • It's increased

    Votes: 1 12.5%
  • About the same

    Votes: 4 50.0%
  • Down by up to 25%

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Down by nearly half

    Votes: 1 12.5%
  • Down by over half

    Votes: 2 25.0%
  • I stopped playing Strategy

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    8
  • This poll will close: .

Interesting article from gaming analysts Quantic Foundry. A couple of snippets for your TLDR taste buds:

"Whatever the cause, it’s likely not a sudden single historical event, but part of a larger, long-term cultural/psychological shift"

"the decline in Strategy is likely not an idiosyncratic phenomenon among digital gamers, but parallels the general reduction in attention spans observed by researchers in different fields"

Proposition is based on analysis of 1.7 million gamer surveys over the past 9 years. QF measures 12 different gamer profile elements, and Strategy is the only one to show such a significant change.

They have a number of charts in the article, and drill down into some likely contributors like age, gender and location.
 
Seem to be missing a choice: I never played strategy games

Is it because there are a lack of strategy games and people just can't choose to play them?
People seem to still play AoE 2 or maybe its just the videos I see.
C&C sort of killed itself, or its on mobile now.
 
I reckon my Strategy play is down by nearly half.

RTS used to be significant for me in its heyday, but there's been very little new in the last decade. That's been largely replaced by open world FPS, which has become much more interesting than it used to be.

4X has probably stayed fairly level for me, with Civ the mainstay.

Seem to be missing a choice: I never played strategy games

No, topic is about reduction—you can't reduce from zero :p

Is it because there are a lack of strategy games

It may well be a significant part of it, there's more money to be made in different genres now, mainly the online cash vampires, so more dev effort going that way.

There is an upsurge in RTS coming this year and next, so we should have a clearer answer to that in a couple of years.

C&C sort of killed itself

I'm disappointed there hasn't been any further follow-up to the 2020 Remaster—maybe because the opportunity for cash hoovering didn't exist?

on mobile

Comments I've seen around suggest there's a big sewage tank of mobile games calling themselves strategy, which may well have given the genre a bad name.

However, that's unlikely to be much of a factor in the survey, only about 10% of the respondents are casual, with 70% core and 20% hardcore—so mostly PC and console gamers.

[Edit: 20% hardcore, not 10%]
 
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One thing I can't find in the article is whether it's possible that there hasn't been a reduction in interest in strategy games but that this interest is merely diluted. Perhaps people with an interest in strategy were overrepresented in the gamer demographics before and now that more people have taken up gaming as a hobby the share of gamers interested in strategy has naturally reduced.

I do think it's also very much possible that there are just more alternatives to strategy games nowadays. I used to play quite a lot of RTS games as a kid, but to be honest I was never particularly strategic in them; I often played on the lowest difficulty and/or used cheats.

I don't think I have become less interested in strategy games though. I played Total War: Warhammer 2 almost exclusively for about 2 years, starting 6 years ago, and I'm currently playing a lot of Slay the Spire, where almost every decision is a balance between short term and long term gains.
 
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I reckon my Strategy play is down by nearly half.

RTS used to be significant for me in its heyday, but there's been very little new in the last decade. That's been largely replaced by open world FPS, which has become much more interesting than it used to be.

This is 100% me. I used to play a ton of C&C and the original War Craft and War Craft 2 way back when. We'd have holiday 3-day weekend-long sessions between me and my buddies with nothing but C&C and WC2. I had to back off the RTS games when I got married as it was literally starting to affect my life as I couldn't put them down. These days I much prefer open world games that I can get lost in.

C&C: Tiberium Wars was the last RTS game I played consistently. And funny story behind that, I remember the base alarm sounded EXACTLY like my CPU over-heat warning alarm at the time. I remember getting annoyed at what the hell was attacking my base and not finding anything, and the my PC would shutdown lol.

I've tried others over the years (Supreme Commander comes to mind), but the time suck factor has kept me at bay. I gotta get some kind of sleep...
 
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I found this article

Oh nice one! Interesting chart in it:

3Jc1DtW.png
 
One thing I can't find in the article is whether it's possible that there hasn't been a reduction in interest in strategy games but that this interest is merely diluted. Perhaps people with an interest in strategy were overrepresented in the gamer demographics before and now that more people have taken up gaming as a hobby the share of gamers interested in strategy has naturally reduced.
I came here to say this. Strategy appeals disproportionately to intelligent male nerds, who used to be a large majority of videogamers. As videogames have become ever more mainstream, they are also played by jocks, who disproportionately want to play multiplayer shooters and sports games, and females, who disproportionately want to play life-sims, VNs, and mobile gacha games. Of course strategy games are going to be diluted in that environment. Similar applies, especially wrt to nerds v jocks, to other genres such as pure immersive sims.
 
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@Pifanjr @Brian Boru
I have to wait to read the articles because my vision is strained at the moment, but do they mention the proliferation of simulation/management games, both of which tend to have a great deal of strategy to them? I wouldn't describe them, technically, as strategy games, but when you are choosing locations, buying properties, managing inventories, setting prices, running marketing campaigns and such, that's definitely scratching that strategy itch of mine.

Colony sims/city builders and factory games are other niche genres that are experiencing a sort of golden era, all requiring significant strategy.

Maybe people who like to strategize have a lot more options now than grand strategy, 4x and RTS.
 
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@Pifanjr @Brian Boru
I have to wait to read the articles because my vision is strained at the moment, but do they mention the proliferation of simulation/management games, both of which tend to have a great deal of strategy to them? I wouldn't describe them, technically, as strategy games, but when you are choosing locations, buying properties, managing inventories, setting prices, running marketing campaigns and such, that's definitely scratching that strategy itch of mine.

Colony sims/city builders and factory games are other niche genres that are experiencing a sort of golden era, all requiring significant strategy.

Maybe people who like to strategize have a lot more options now than grand strategy, 4x and RTS.

They don't mention it, but the Quantic Foundry questionnaire doesn't rely on genres I think.
 
do they mention

doesn't rely on genres

^ What he said ^

The survey is about your motivations, not which games you play—but it does ask for your top 6 games played, so it can link your survey answers with the games you like most. So there'll be a Q like…
"Do you like to blow stuff up?"
…which you answer on a scale of 1-5.
Another Q might be…
"Do you like to plan 3-4 moves ahead?"

Do that with 1.7 million players and you get a good correlation between games and motivations.
 

TL;DR: No more strategy games, only Clicker Heroes.​

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt2gHpqfZNA


There is for me an obvious correlation between social/digital media and decreased attention span regardless of whether it is a strategy game or just you walking outside taking the bus.

Take reading books for example and how the time of active reading (how long you stay focused) has been reduced. Why? Because we have so many distractions in our lives, like phones, computers, tablets, watches, and plenty of other digital devices that crave your attention at any given time.

It is one of the big reasons why social media is so lucrative for big companies and why they want to personalize algorithms so they can keep you hooked on the scroll button for hours.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUwQhTM9gK4

The average person spends several hours each day using them and our brain can't handle that well, as it gets overloaded with information and can't unwind. It does something with us, it makes us lose focus and it steals more and more of our time, time we for example could have used playing a strategy game.
PxZsXFL.gif


To speculate more: Our brains are shrinking (excluding old age here) because we don't need as much of it anymore. Our collective way of living does not really need that much brain power since we now have computer power. So, another reason that we have become less interested in strategic thinking/planning is that we have rapidly become accustomed to having someone else doing the thinking for us.

Could we possibly end up like the people in the movie Idiocracy? Not a fat chance, but I believe we will lose some (more) cognitive capabilities not because we evolve into dumber beings, but because we don't need it anymore and can streamline our brains to work even better together. In a way, I guess you could say we are evolving into an ant colony in which the queen is the digital information
a9BLtOD.png

Ps: If you read this without first having clicked on any of the videos: *pat on the shoulder*
 
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I didn't watch any of the videos—gotta get back to my strategy game!—but surely our cognitive load is increasing, not decreasing… in the more advanced world, of course. Education is lasting longer because life is more complex, which needs more brain work, not less.

We've always been 'fed' by opportunists and power seekers, only the people and methods change. Shaman to SocMed corp, myth to advertising.
 
Education is lasting longer because life is more complex, which needs more brain work, not less.
You could say the same about work, but some studies have shown that working less is often better for productivity like working four days a week instead of five days. There is also a reason why some schools prefer to let children educate themselves (with some guidance) on subjects of interest instead of following a wide and loooong yearly curriculum that often leads to more confusion about what the students want to do later in life. It's not about having the education last long, it is about the quality it brings. Since not many people in the world work on complex problems and seeing how the world is getting more and more automated, one could argue that there isn't much need for education to last long anyway, which again gives more people time with their family, friends, hobbies and the like.

I also think it depends on the type of complexity we are talking about. At least in the sense that humans don't have a wide array of skill sets like you had "back in the old days". What I mean by that is that humans had to survive against harder odds, which meant they had to specialize in different fields, like how to fish, make a bow, what berries to eat, how to make clothes, etc. These types of complex skills and masteries are something we lack because we don't need them on a wider scale.

Then there is also the discussion on whole institutes that work on complex problems, but problems that are so narrow and not groundbreaking enough because the institutes don't have the guts to go wider being afraid of losing money. So instead of doing something groundbreaking in their field, they'll spew out complex but minutely catered scientific papers that will for sure grant the institute a bag of money. This paragraph is just me trying (poorly) to describe the absurdity of some of these institutions where academia is not always focused on knowledge, but more on money making.

I just remembered a thing that Martha C Nussbaum mentioned in a book I read recently. She talks briefly about how some academic papers are so technical that it makes it hard to reach a wider audience. So in a sense, the complexity is hurting the field because it might not bring it further. I guess that in some fields it might not matter that much if that field is a widely renowned one with a plethora of papers made often, but perhaps for other fields, it would be a challenge to bring new thoughts out to the public.

They say Ernest Hemingway wrote the shortest novel using only six words, but I made 433 words out of one sentence. *drops mic with a sheepish and slightly confused grin*
 
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some studies have shown that working less is often better for productivity

Seems to depend on the worker—works for self-motivated mostly from what I've read. A couple of family have small construction companies here and their ongoing main problem is getting workers to show up for jobs.

Working hours have reduced steadily since humanity began its temporary sojourn with modern employment and significantly reduced slavery, and our productivity has skyrocketed in tandem. However this is likely to be correlation, with the cause being the very rapid rise of technologies during the same period.

Such tech rise of course needs more educated people to develop, build and operate.

following a wide and loooong yearly curriculum that often leads to more confusion about what the students want to do later in life

It also leads to more choice. Your example certainly leads to less confusion, but I doubt the populace at large would prefer the far fewer options young people would have at the end of it.

Your example should be viable once full automation has reduced material needs to irrelevant with UBI, but that's a while away, prob next century.

humans don't have a wide array of skill sets like you had "back in the old days"

Right, people go deep these days, rather than shallow in the GODs. You don't get tech advancement by wading in the shallows.

one could argue that there isn't much need for education to last long anyway

Nice contrast with the argument that we all need to become philomaths, which I've seen a lot more often than the opposite :)

The past does not predict the future, but there is an unbroken trend line of general quality of life improving for the educated.

how to fish, make a bow, what berries to eat, how to make clothes, etc. These types of complex skills and masteries are something we lack

Those are relatively very simple skills which were among the first to meet productivity increases during tech advances so a small handful of people could take care of them for everyone while the rest got on with more demanding occupations.

the absurdity of some of these institutions where academia is not always focused on knowledge, but more on money making

I'm with you there, 'publish or perish' is a major corruption of the scientific field.

a sheepish and slightly confused grin

Now there's a skill we can all use!
 
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Is it because there are a lack of strategy games and people just can't choose to play them?
"the decline in Strategy is likely not an idiosyncratic phenomenon among digital gamers, but parallels the general reduction in attention spans observed by researchers in different fields"
I wonder if it's because, as gaming hardware got better and games more complex in general, a pure "strategy simulator" with no major player inputs other than telling units to execute a strategy became less engaging in general? The way I'm thinking about it is: when you, the player, have to plan, account for outlier scenarios, engage the enemy, and execute the strategy by your own hands, it causes a far more cathartic release when you succeed. It actually feels like you have some skin in the game with your agency. Just look at the stealth sections of games like the Batman: Arkham series. Or even further back, immersive sims like Deus Ex and System Shock. Look again at multiplayer shooters, particularly objective modes. Those games not only have your skin in them, but you've got to look out for your teammates, too. This opens the door for even more strategic thinking and planning on the part of the player, rather than options set in stone by the devs that can't be molded or shaped in any way by the player.

Another area that strategy has blossomed since the 2010, in my opinion, is the realm of digital CCGs. Card games are definitionally "strategy" games. They're literally ancient. On top of that, the advent of the Deckbuilder Roguelike (e.g., Slay the Spire) brings yet another angle of strategy to card games.

It could also be — and this is the biggest one, in my mind — that strategy games, especially in the RTS vein, just peaked. They got so good that you can't meaningfully innovate further outside of making the game bigger, increasing difficulty through sheer complexity of systems. I think it may be that the ability to strategize in other high-profile games has just outpaced the appeal of strategy sims.
 
You can all relax now. I, Zed Clampet, have finally read the article.

The major problem with this survey is that the sample is unprotected and unanalyzed. Who was answering this survey 9 years ago? Who is answering this survey today? How many people responded 9 years ago? How many people are responding today? If we use the figures from various articles they've written, the first 1/3 of the years contains 1/8th of the total respondents, indicating that most of the respondents are rather recent. Nine years ago the number of people who were categorized as strategic was 50 percent, a number that doesn't seem realistic to me. If the survey has picked up steam through the years with more and more people answering every year, then you would expect odd statistics to level out over time, as appears to have happened.

Also related is that the survey doesn't ask how long you have been gaming. The sample is from the last 9 years, during which time gaming has grown by over 1 billion people (https://pcguide101.com/security/gamers-statistics/). Do people new to gaming play the same type of game that people who've been gaming for awhile play? We have no way of knowing the answer to this, but with this type of rapid growth, it's a critical question.

What is the decline by age breakdown? We don't know. Who are the new gamers by age breakdown? We don't know. What are the gaming preferences of new gamers? We don't know. What is the decline if you only include console gamers (800 million) and PC gamers (1.3 billion)? We don't know.

What's very strange is that some of these questions, like age and preferred device, are asked by the very survey that the article uses. In my experience, when an author avoids including important data in an article, it's because this data contradicts the point they are trying to make. For instance, strategy games are experiencing a renaissance in China over the last few years largely influenced by Tencent's Honor of Kings game. China has hundreds of millions of gamers. They aren't included at all in the survey. Granted, they mostly play competitive games, but I suspect that their strategy playing has increased recently, which wouldn't help this survey make its point.

Shouldn't a survey that states that it is trying to impact future game development take the largest gaming market in the world into account? Possibly not if it contradicts the story you're writing.

Bottom line is that there are a lot of valid questions about this article, but even if the article is true, there are over a billion gamers who like strategic thought, which should be enough for any game developer.
 

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