Even Blizzard Isn't Sure How to Save the RTS Genre, but MOBAs Might Help

"I wish I could say we knew what the magic bullet was," StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Lead Producer Tim Morten said.


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During an interview with Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void Lead Producer Tim Morten, GameSpot asked about the waning popularity of the the real-time strategy genre, and if Blizzard has a plan to make it more appealing to a wider audience in the future.

In short, even Blizzard, whose StarCraft and Warcraft games helped define the genre, doesn't have a clear answer, but it hopes that the popularity of MOBAs like Dota 2 and League of Legends is a good sign.

"We talk a lot about that internally and there's a hope on my part that the audience that's playing Heroes of the Storm, that's playing MOBA games, will be interested in feeding into more complex gameplay," Morten said. "In a way that's a gateway to what RTS is, and of course grew out of RTS in the first place. I hope there's some synergy there."

Morten added that part of the problem is that RTS games have a steep learning curve, and that Blizzard is trying to address that issue as it's revisiting the tutorial and training missions from the previous games in Legacy of the Void.

Additionally, Blizzard hopes that players will be less intimidated to play online with Legacy of the Void's Archon Mode, a brand new cooperative mode where two players share control of a single base and units.

"But there's a lot more thinking that I'd like to do. it may wind up being the case that it becomes the focus of something in the future, but it is something that we'd like to figure out how to solve. I wish I could say we knew what the magic bullet was."

Blizzard has not yet announced a release date for Legacy of the Void, the third, final, and standalone expansion in the StarCraft II trilogy. You can sign up for the game's beta today at Battle.net.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Just make an RTS as deep as Supreme Commander 1 with massive maps. Layer the Starcraft units over that and for chrissakes DO NOT LOCK units usable in the single player campaign! Let us use everything for skirmish. ANd yes MASSIVE MAPS

Avatar image for bright-raven77

might be nice to have an mmo style close rand like wow 3rd person where you can only command up to 2 npc where you need to choose wihch class/beast u take with uwhere the point would be resources for your ppl in oder to survive with multi factions against each other full pvp

Avatar image for Relvar

I know what the magic bullet is..... DON'T MAKE US WAIT 2 YEARS BETWEEN TITLES! Starcraft (1 AND 2) should have had a brood-war sized expansion every 6 months. Blizzard is PATHETIC when it comes to QUANTITY. Guess what guys - 1000 hours with a decent game is a lot better than 10 hours with a great one - and that holds true 100% of the time!

Avatar image for gotyourzergs

Well 2 things... first of all, if you include things like Distant Worlds, Europa Universalis, and the Medieval2 Total War and Sins of a Solar Empire modding scenes, the RTS genre is gloriously alive. Secondly, the the dominance by Starcraft 2 of the "traditional RTS" field is a huge part of the problem. Starcraft 2 is way too micromanagement intensive for my tastes and probably most other people who actually want "strategic" gameplay. Obviously any RTS needs a certain amount of micro, but SC2 has lots of micro for micro's sake. The new units and changes for the upcoming expansion make this even worse. It seems like Blizzard is catering to the progaming scene by upping the "actions per minute" requirement for successful play, which means actual strategic decision making is secondary. I'm all for unit micro and activated abilities in turn based tactics games like Final Fantasy Tactics, and even in real-time tactics/hybrids like Company of Heroes and Dawn of War 2, but in a fast-paced real time game that also requires extensive base management, it's a nightmare. Not to mention, the need to micromanage the economy via things like larva injects and mule drops is ridiculous. There's no reason that should be automated, except to make the game more difficult for casual gamers to benefit the pro scene. I would love to see more RTS like Battle for Middle Earth, which have enough economy management to allow harassing and economic decisionmaking, but don't ram the micro down your throat--for example, the ability to recruit squads instead of "one marine at a time" is both fun and less "gamey."

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I really liked Supreme Commander for that reason. It wasn't as much micro, it was very much a large scale game.

Avatar image for gotyourzergs

And also less ridiculous and cartoony stories would be nice, it's a sad day when the first person shooter genre is way ahead on plot and setting compared to RTS

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the only MOBA I can TOLERATE is DOTA and thats barely

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I think you mean to say that the talent that made all the great franchises that blizzard continues to live on today, left the studio.

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<< LINK REMOVED >> pretty much

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Save RTS?

First of all, go back to the StarCraft story model. Everyone was both a good guy and a bad guy. Every race had a legitimate and justifiable reason for fighting, and a legitimate reason for fighting the other races or even themselves. This "Zel-Naga is our common enemy" thing is disappointing and gives me no reason to pick a race and fight the other.

Second of all, require skill but make it fun. SC2 requires lots of skill for no pay off. I mean, c'mon, have you ever watched a game of sc2 compared to sc1? (or played one for that matter?) sc1 is action packed from the very beginning. sc2 takes exactly 7 minutes to start, and is the same stupid spectacle (experience) each time - one mass ball vs another - which pretty much makes it a coin toss. Plus, if you make one mistake in the first 7 minutes (even a small one) you can predict with a 80% chance of success that person who made a mistake in the boring part is the one who is going to lose in the end. sc1 was not like this. It was exciting to watch and interesting to play.

Third of all, get your community under control. Even if the game is fun and exciting, no one will watch it if it isn't family friendly. I have seen some star craft games I wanted to share with others, but because the community has no standards, I felt like I couldn't share it with my friend and family. Esports are not going to make money from 18 year old boys acting like undisciplined monkeys. It will make money when 30 year old family men can justify spectating, and this will lead to buying copies of the game for the kids, and buying merchandise.

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mobas? God no, those are awful

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How bout releasing an rts for starters

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For me I wish RTS games were more about strategy rather then how fast you can learn to press the shortcut keys.

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Everything you say is only your opinion! And its false if you ask me.

Avatar image for thepyrethatburn

*shrug* Being old, I've seen a number of genres die. I've seen Flight/space sims go from "the big thing" to the sad state they're in now. I've seenthe turn-based strategy genre get murdered by RTS.

Genres come. They get mass-produced and copied. Sometimes they die. It is the way of things.

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Turn-based is hardly a dead genre, we had very strong titles recently in X-com or Divinity. Even remakes of old games do well, check out Tactics Ogre for PSP, the game was practically remade from ground-up, with better interface and some new mechanics in place it hardly feels old and the reception from both gamers and critics was great.

I'm looking forward to Pillars of Eternity too, it should make quite a splash.

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Yeah but that doesn't mean we have to be happy about it :). A lot of genres or specific subtypes could still be done by big companies, it's just that they all chase massive numbers and most people only really want to play a pretty small set of game types. Like people have been saying for ages, the mid budget games are mostly dead.

Of course the industry's response is that the cost of making games is so high they cannot do it anymore. Maybe that's true, who knows. I think the push towards games as a service is only going to kill these games/genres off even more. Indies have come along to fill some of that void, but that often doesn't do it for me. As much as I love indie genre comebacks or spiritual successors, they often can't match the scale and complexity of those AAAs from the past.

Avatar image for thepyrethatburn

Also, I gotta point out:


Just sayin'

Avatar image for DAOWAce

Making good games which aren't clones of C&C would be a good start.

..now I want to replay C&C3, huff.

Or hell, maybe I'll go play Warzone 2100, which is still being worked on by fans to this day. Pretty damn unique game for its time.

Avatar image for Nuvendil

Here's an idea: make good games? Act like you give a crap?

Even Creative Assembly screwed up last year with Rome 2's awful release (that's RTS + TBS but same issue). Take the time and put in the effort to make a quality game. And let the game devs take care of their business rather than having marketing peons or shareholders or nosey execs micromanage them.

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RTS isn't dying, its being killed. Maybe the fact that no RTS games are being released might have something to do with it. Or with StarCraft 2, they took the original, broke it into 3 different games so they could triple their money. Then to take years between installments with very little changes in the actual game. Then you have others that are dumbed down or turned into cartoons like command and conquer. It's not that the genre is dying, it that legacy titles are being destroyed for profit or not released at all.

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<< LINK REMOVED >>'Or with StarCraft 2, they took the original, broke it into 3 different games so they could triple their money.'

*Sigh* Once again, someone cries for the wrong reason.

Back before Wings of Liberty was released, Blizzard put out a survey, with one single question with three answers to pick from. The question was: 'How do YOU think this should be released.' The answers to choose from were 'each campaign separately', 'all campaigns together but it will take a lot of time to get the game as we want it to be', or 'all the campaigns together, but with a lot of cut content in order to get it out the door quicker'.

The feedback that they got said that people wanted the game as quickly as, even if it meant each campaign being separate.

Blizzard aren't to blame for the campaigns being separate releases, if you want to blame somebody, then blame all the people who said that they wanted it this way, which at the time, included ME!

Now, the stupidly long delay between campaign releases, that you can blame Blizzard for. The full price for each campaign? Sure, though Legacy of the Void can be bought as a standalone, and if memory serves, Heart of the Swarm was as well, which means that I feel the price is fair for a physical copy, but a digital download should have a discount based on ownership of previous campaigns.

Now, Command & Conquer turning cartoony? I'm assuming you're talking about Red Alert 3... AGREED! I HATE THAT GAME! I'm a minority that didn't like Red Alert 2 that much; gameplay was fine, but trying to embrace the cheese never sat well, especially after the serious nature of the original Red Alert and the Tiberian series.

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starcraft had good initial sales but its the game quality that drove people away.

RPG element with no likable characters, bad dialogues, boring plot.

Unit design and balance problems.

1v1 focused and totally ignoring group play - no chat room, no clan, party limits and problems starting game when there are many people in a group. they obviously didnt notice that group play makes good business..."multi-player" to blizzard includes 2 people only playing 1v1... they obviously didnt notice when making "e-sport" that the most popular sports are actually team games...

concentrating on making money from a competitive scene without ensuring it had a good foundation - making sure game quality is good, people would like and stay with the game.

not to mention not doing anything about the toxic nature of the sc2 players.

all of the above drove people away...

utterly disappointed with blizzard and not reallyt expecting them to get any better...they just dont see it...

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<< LINK REMOVED >> What are you talking about? You mad? "Toxic nature of the sc2 players" ahahaha, you obviously didnt play a multiplayer game, like dota2. Sc2 is an old game already, keep your pants on. Sc2 is THE best RTS from recent history!

Avatar image for AnimeFreaks


but I have a problem with the title of the article...even blizzard cant save it...and mobas will help...


so much bs...no blizzard wouldnt be able to save it...it wouldnt be able to save anything it wouldnt be able to produce aother game that will have the same popularity as the original sc, wow or wc3...and while dota came from wc3 blizzard didnt make it....
Avatar image for AnimeFreaks

@bmfalex well its very interesting all you can comment on is the point on toxic players. not to mention you are wrong anyway. you dont know what you are talking about. i've played hell lot more games than you ever will and multiplayer games always sucks hell lot more time than single player games... dont even try to argue...the possibility of anything else is down right miniscule...

and the best rts in "recent history" lol...yes and depending on how recent you make it it also the only RTS game made that is not indie...it doesnt take very much to be best now does it? dont even mention how much money blizzard has to make the game and the amount of marketing thats gone in. do you really know anything at all to make your comment? i really wouldnt believe if you said yes...

and no I am not mad just extremely disappointed...i no longer have much expectation for blizzard...i've moved on...

Avatar image for quebec946

screw mobas they're repetitive as hell, they feel like a watered down mmorpg

Avatar image for Evil_Sidekick

RTS are great, MOBA's....not.

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RTS's aren't waning because of a steep learning curve. They're waning because the game play hasn't chnaged in 20 years. Build base, swarm opposing player.

WC3 was more tactical. That made it more interesting. SC2 was basically the same game as the first with new skins.

If Blizzard made a game more like Company of Heroes, they'd only be 5 years behind the curve and probably make a lot of money.

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I love rts games, hopefully it wont die out anytime soon

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RTS has always been a relatively small genre. The big series were Age of Emipres, Warcraft/Starcraft, and Command and Conquer. Just about every other RTS game has been derived from these three in some way, and these days Age of Empires and Command and Conquer are basically orphaned. Really, even critically acclaimed RTS games, like Rise of Nations, never get the mass appeal that Blizzard aims for.

Maybe it would be best for Blizzard to make a new RTS not rooted in the Warcraft or Starcraft universe so they can create new characters with an original storyline.
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<< LINK REMOVED >> nice of you to mention the originals, like...you know, Dune, Warhammer, etc :)

Avatar image for Unfallen_Satan

I want to be fair. Blizzard tries to introduce strategy using what it's got. It can be seen in SC 2 from the tutorial to professional competition. What should I build in the beginning? When should I attack? When should I build a second base for resources? Can I mislead my opponent about what I intend? These are strategic decisions. One problem is they come up so near the beginning of a match. Efficiency becomes a huge factor, and someone else already discussed that. The other problem is the strategy doesn't broaden as a match goes on, it diminishes until it only matters if one guy's big wad can kill the other guy's big wad. You don't usually see that with good competitive players. Typically when the early stratagems have run their course, one side has already lost or conceded. The way Blizzard makes RTS closes many strategic options. I will admit, though, that not all those options are best at the RTS level. Some should be put, as they have been in others, in higher layer meta-games. What's left is not really as playable as, say, MOBA.

How many people can think through multiple strategies or develop traps or counters in the span of only a few minutes? You have to train, which Blizzard kindly emphasizes as a tip in SC 2, not unlike chess players train to recognize and use established stratagems. How many players are willing to do that? From this view, RTS as Blizzard envisions it doesn't need to be saved. It was never meant to appeal to the kind of audience other high-sales games do.

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He specifically mentions that MOBA came out of RTS (I guess specifically WC 3), and he doesn't see a problem? I actually think there is good strategy in the meta-game of DOTA 2 and, I assume, other popular MOBA as well. As far as a group of strangers who never come together better than just playing their heroes the best they can, there is no strategy to be had; single player or co-op are not even worth mentioning.

A lot of people have such fond memories of WC 3, and I agree it was well made. However, it didn't do the RTS genre any favors. Coming off the very symmetric feel of WC 1 and 2, which I found inferior to more strategically diverse RTS in the first place, 3 distinguished itself through micromanagement instead of greater strategic diversity. It's not a coincidence that the most visible and successful legacy of WC 3 was the DOTA mod, which led to the MOBA explosion. I hold the opinion that Blizzard got RTS wrong from the beginning and never got better in a fundamental way.

Avatar image for bmfalex

<< LINK REMOVED >> It's just that you view the genre in a different way. There's nothing wrong with how blizzard sees it, that's how most of the player base sees an RTS game.

Avatar image for Unfallen_Satan

<< LINK REMOVED >> Every part of what you say is true, but I still cannot bring myself to agree. Though SC 2 players more than likely make up the majority of "RTS" players today, which I recognize and won't try to dispute or criticize, I don't think the kind that play SC 2 correctly were in the majority when there were still diversity in RTS games. The large group of players that favored WC 3 and helped to launch MOBA were not playing the kind of strategy that existed in what were more broadly considered RTS games. Otherwise the topic of "saving RTS" wouldn't even have come up.

Though I don't like it, I am largely OK for RTS today to be defined by SC 2 and other games that closely resemble it. It has a unique setup. I suppose what I don't want to hear is any insinuation that narrow RTS still represents half of strategy games the way it used to alongside TBS. Strategy gaming, even those wholly or partly in real-time, has grown beyond that. I suppose the goal of my original comment is to dissuade any effort to re-popularize Blizzard brand of RTS. If Blizzard RTS changes, like it evolved from WC 2 to Starcraft, it's another topic. I am wholly against reasserting the current RTS iteration by having it ride the success of MOBA.

Avatar image for skootbootz

well maybe abandoning one of your bigger RTS titles for an MMO could have helped not kill the genre.

Avatar image for Vexov

That Archon mode was interesting, i don't watch "e-sports" which should be called "e-games", but I would love to see this mode in action.

RTS doesn't seem to be popular for team play, all you see is 1v1 cause when it comes to team play its just who strikes first pretty much. If RTS games managed to do better at bringing out team play then it could be more interesting and fun.

When you play a moba its something you can talk about and play with your family/friends, its just a lot more fun then a RTS. RTS's have team play, but its all over pretty quick and different some combo'ing abilities then just smashing a larger army at another.

Moba's are just better time spent then RTS's. If RTS's want to become better then things like Archon mode need to happen, and a lot better balanced gameplay for teams needs to be done.

Avatar image for bmfalex

<< LINK REMOVED >> Yea, its so much fun to play 60minutes games in dota on the same map, over and over again with the most toxic communities ever! In and RTS 1v1 like sc2, you depend on your own skills, not on a russian that only wastes on hour of your life!

Avatar image for michael_araujo

RTS's have to many parts that aren't fun and are tedious. Some for example are scouting, build orders, and even attacking with constant hit and runs. All these things are pains in the ass and should be taken out of these games or modified to be fun. I personally want a strategy game where its more of a chess match where you have to counter your enemies positions on the map (XCOM), and have the battles that eventually ensue be long interactive battles with great animations and sounds. Make the anticipation of the first gunfire lead to eye candy battles and have battling on the front lines more of what the games about than upgrading your units and fortifying your defenses for whatever type of gorilla tactics that people may use. Enough of invisible and burrowing units. I want a strategy game, not cloak and dagger nonsense where you have to make units or building for no other reason but to counter stealth. Thats work not fun.

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Sounds like you are into turn based Real Time Strategy games and not Real Time Strategy games.

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Make WarCraft 4 and you will save it...

Avatar image for GraveUypo

rts is too stressful to play.

lessen the pressure somehow and you'll have more players. that archon mode might help, but it's not the answer.