Study shows gamers’ interest in deep strategy games is declining

Study shows gamers' interest in deep strategy games is declining
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A new study suggests that video games with complex strategic elements are losing their appeal.

A report from Quantic Foundry, which collected nine years of data using its Gamer Motivation Profile tool, reveals a significant decline in interest for strategy games. Categories analyzed included Disruption, Excitement, Competition, Community, Challenge, Strategy, Completion, Power, Fantasy, History, Discovery, and Design, demonstrating a thorough examination of various aspects.

Quantic Foundry conducted an in-depth analysis of gamers’ motivations over the years and discovered that while most categories remained consistent, there was one notable exception: Strategy.

Gamers who highly rate this component excel at games that demand strategic decision making and meticulous planning. They have a knack for carefully considering their options and predicting likely outcomes.

These decisions often involve the delicate task of balancing resources and competing goals, navigating the complexities of foreign diplomacy, or devising optimal long-term strategies. They thoroughly enjoy the strategic gameplay found in titles such as XCOM, Fire Emblem, Civilization, Cities: Skylines, and Europa Universalis. They relish the satisfaction of flawlessly executing their meticulously crafted plans.

Study shows gamers' interest in deep strategy games is declining

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Interestingly, out of the 1.7 million surveyed, Quantic Foundry discovered that a majority of strategy enthusiasts worldwide (excluding China, where gamers have a distinct motivation profile) have grown disinterested in this particular aspect of video games.

67% of gamers today care less about strategic thinking and planning in games than the average gamer did in June 2015.

When we analyzed long-term trends among the 12 motivations, we found that many motivations remained stable or experienced minor fluctuations over the past nine years. Strategy was a clear exception—it declined significantly over the past nine years, and the magnitude of that change was more than twice as large as the next largest change.

The trend analysis did not uncover any noticeable distinctions between different groups, such as gender or nationality of gamers. The trend was compared to other phenomena commonly seen in today’s fast-paced world, such as the rise of shorter videos on YouTube that are gaining more views, and the increasing frequency of quick cuts in films. However, Quantic Foundry acknowledged the challenge of determining cause and effect and emphasized that there is insufficient evidence to solely attribute the blame to social media.

However, social networks such as X, TikTok and others may have greatly contributed to the rapid growth of this trend.

Another possible hypothesis is that the increasing negativity, polarization, intrusiveness, and emotional manipulation on social media have created a constant cognitive overload on our limited cognitive resources. Simply put, we may be too overwhelmed by social media to think deeply about anything.

Regardless of the reason, according to Quantic Foundry, there has been a decline in gamers’ interest in strategic thinking over the past nine years. This suggests that gamers may now be more prone to cognitive overload during gaming and more inclined to avoid strategic complexity.

This trend may even impact the way developers create and market games, even though strategy games are still being released.

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