Are Tablets the Future of the RTS Genre?

One genre of video games that hasn’t gotten much love this generation has been the real-time strategy genre, a genre that I hold dear. Some of the first video games I ever played were RTS titles, and games like Age of Mythology are among my favorites of all time. One way that these fantastic games may be able to make a comeback is through the increasing ubiquity of touch-screen devices and tablets.

While Apple legitimized the tablet scene with the original iPad, there are many other major players in the tablet market. Microsoft, for example, has recently released their own tablet, the Microsoft Surface, complete with an operating system seemingly designed specifically for tablets, Windows 8. Other major competitors include Amazon, with their very competitively priced Kindle Fire, and Google with their well-priced Nexus 7 tablet. As these devices get more and more polished, they also get more and more powerful. In fact, the dual-core processor found in the iPad is considered underpowered, only about five years after dual-core processors were the personal computing standard.

Real-time strategy games are perfect for touch screen devices, because the game is too complex to be played on any device that does not allow for pinpoint control. Real-time strategy games require players to manage resources, plan layouts for bases, and organize large armies of troops. Previously, only a computer would allow the player to effectively do this, but touchscreens seem to be a viable alternative. Anyone who has dabbled in science-fiction knows that in the future, people will be controlling large armies on a hologram or touch screen anyway, so there is a certain amount of precedent for this idea. In fact, I would guess that touch screen technology would make controlling real-time strategy games even easier and more fluid than with a mouse, as your fingers could theoretically be in two places at once. Also, the aforementioned power now found in tablet devices would make it possible to put hardcore, large-scale RTS games on them. I think I can speak for all RTS fans when I say that we don’t want casual strategy games, we want authentic hardcore real-time strategy games on our tablets.

Ultimately, real-time strategy games could potentially have a bright future ahead of them after almost a decade of descent into obscurity (with a few notable exceptions). Tablets and touchscreen devices represent a new direction for RTS games, a path that hopefully retains what everyone loves about these games. These devices have become common enough and powerful enough that they could be a viable development platform. Hopefully, the industry has not given up on the real-time strategy genre just yet, as there is a way to make RTS games mainstream again.