Pet hypothesis: the “harvest-build-destroy” (HBD) subgenre of RTS games “died out” because they peaked so early.
Herzog Zwei, either the first RTS or a proto-RTS depending on who you ask, came out in 1989. Three years later, Dune II came out in 1992 and created what I’d call the first recognizable HBD RTS – harvesting resources, a tech tree, basebuilding, and different factions.
StarCraft came out in 1998. Age of Empires II came out the next year in 1999. Within seven years, the subgenre went from the first recognizable appearance of its core traits to its peak, releasing two games that still have large, active competitive communities and cash-prize tournaments decades later. After that, developers quickly learned that trying to release a new HBD-style RTS was tilting at windmills, and everyone would just see it as a crappy StarCraft ripoff.
also a smaller market, and hard to leverage graphical improvements in the way that shooters and sims could.
competitive multiplayer and online dissemination of strategies destroyed RTS.
playing with friends any RTS in the old days: lots of cool shit to figure out, tactics, strategy, FUN! the most fun you could imagine!
playing any RTS (except, sometimes, Blizzard games) in the modern era:
“the correct strategy is actually tank rush that hits at 5:53. look, everyone is doing a 5:53 tank rush.”
what are some non-HBD RTSs? that’s the definition i use for RTS.
Company of Heroes is one example.
Company of Heroes is a map control game. The more of the map you control, the faster you can requisition more units/support, and you win by having uncontested control over specific points on the map.
Which means – if your opponent does nothing, you can win a multiplayer match without harvesting any resources, building any structures or destroying any enemies. Just send your starting unit out to visit each strategic point on the map and sit back.
In a more typical match, you build and you destroy but victory is not won by destruction – at the end of a typical match, the enemy still has most, if not all, of their base structures remaining.