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Study suggests players are not as interested in strategy games anymore

Running around a Manor Lords village in third-person.
Roaming around as your lordly self is a great way to explore your towns. DigitalTrends

People have become less interested in strategy gaming over the past nine years, according to a new study.

A report from Quantic Foundry that was published Tuesday found that 67% of gamers polled cared less about strategy in games than they did in 2015. It notes that not only is the drop identical between men and women, but that it predates the COVID-19 pandemic and doesn’t seem to correlate depending on country. So, people being locked inside playing video games aren’t to blame for the lack of interest. If anything, the turn has been a gradual, downward trend over the past nine years.

Quantic Foundry, which calls itself a game analytics consulting company, defines strategy in games as eliciting “long-term thinking” and “making decisions. Other reasons for play include action, creativity, and immersion — or living in a fantasy. The company has tracked gamer motivations for around nine years by asking participants to take a quick survey. It estimates that around 1.57 million people globally (minus China) filled it out and were counted in the study.

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As for why interest has been declining, the report postulates that it might be due to declining attention spans, although that’s just a theory. “There are many seemingly related findings in terms of our media consumption habits,” it reads. “Overall, gamers now prefer shorter time horizons to plan for (i.e., the number of steps and branching outcomes they have to think through) and less complex decisions that rely on fewer parameters to consider.”

None of this is to say that it’s impossible for strategy games to do well. Manor Lords, which released in early access in April, sold 1 million copies in one day. Publisher Hooded Horse said that its peak concurrent player count on Steam was the “highest ever for a city builder (or for other different genres like GSG/4x/colony sim).” Other strategy games like StellarisCrusader Kings 3, and Total War: Warhammer 3 also continue to do well on Steam. In 2023, many long-running strategy franchises also released new entries, so the market seems like it will always be there.

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Carli Velocci
Carli is a technology, culture, and games editor and journalist. They were the Gaming Lead and Copy Chief at Windows Central…
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