Strategy Games: A Brief History
Beginning with Total War: Warhammer in 1995, the mid-to-late 90s gave rise to many legendary franchises in the online strategy gaming genre, including StarCraft, Age of Empires, Command & Conquer, and Warcraft — with each releasing expansions and sequels well into the 2000s. Hit after hit, the online strategy genre experienced a golden age making and breaking record sales. But, as the decade turned, the popularity of strategy games mysteriously dwindled.
Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness was considered a massive success with 500,000 worldwide sales made within its first three months, but future strategy titles would blow it out of the water. StarCraft topped 1998’s best seller spot with 1.5 million sales. Then, in 2002, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos became the fastest-selling PC game of all time, after selling 1 million copies in just 30 days! Following Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Warcraft III’s next expansion — Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne — made an impressive 1 million sales in 2003. Sales for strategy games were only going up.
Finally, in 2010, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty shocked the gaming industry by selling 1 million copies on launch day. Extremely well-received, the game went on to sell over 6 million more copies before it was expanded with StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void — each of which added an additional million sales to the franchise. StarCraft II set a new standard, and is now commonly considered the best strategy game of all time. Yet most subsequent strategy games have fallen flat and been unable to live up to expectations.
Out of the bleak winter that encapsulated strategy games, two developers have emerged, and are rising to the challenge of breathing new life into the strategy genre. Relic Entertainment released Age of Empires 4 in October of last year, and rising game studio MetaKing is joining the fight with its upcoming release of BLOCKLORDS, a medieval grand strategy with AAA graphics, built on web3 technology. While official sales numbers for Age of Empires 4 haven’t yet been released, signs are good as the game reached Steam’s top-seller list with its refreshingly modern mechanics. BLOCKLORDS also shows promise, combining the best mechanics of top strategy games and taking inspiration from what many consider to be responsible for the downfall of the strategy genre — MOBAs.
What are MOBAs?
MOBAs, or multiplayer online battle arenas, began with Defense of the Ancients (more commonly known as DotA). DotA itself originated as a modded StarCraft game mode that featured players cooperatively fighting endless waves of enemies in four lanes. After the game mode gained popularity, modders continuously iterated upon it and began creating modded DotA game modes for other strategy titles. The modding community had particular success with Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos, seeing as the game’s new capabilities enabled modders to make increasingly complex game modes that eventually came to resemble modern MOBAs.
Seeing the future of gaming unfolding before them, Valve Software changed gaming by officially hiring lead modder IceFrog. IceFrog would go on to design a standalone version of DotA known as DotA 2. DotA 2 was released in 2013, almost 9 years after its predecessor became popular. But Valve wasn’t the only company inspired by the emerging MOBA trend. Between the releases of DotA and DotA 2, publisher Riot Games launched League of Legends in 2009.
The Success of MOBA’s
Today, DotA 2 sees an average daily player count of over 400,000 users, while League of Legends stands as the most popular MOBA with an astonishing 180 million active players. Both serve as modern icons within the MOBA space, and owe their success directly to strategy franchises like StarCraft and Warcraft. In fact, before the multiplayer online battle arena genre existed, League of Legends and DotA were referred to as action real-time strategy games.
The success of MOBAs can mainly be attributed to their free-to-play model, which attracts a large player base. Their focus on multiplayer gaming creates a variety of unique experiences, and extensive personalization options like character build systems, viability of different gameplay styles, and character customization allows players to express themselves.
With its high barriers to entry, focus on solo campaign play, and lack of personalization, the strategy genre slowly lost players to MOBAs. Most developers have been reluctant to publish new strategy titles as a result of the shrinking player base. However, hope for a strategy resurgence is alive, as games like StarCraft II have retained a small group of hardcore players, and game studios like MetaKings develop new classically-inspired titles with a modern touch.
How Web3 Technology Changes the Game
BLOCKLORDS harnesses web3 technology and gives players complete freedom of expression in its medieval metaverse. Players have the ability to craft their own unique narrative and story warring as salaried knights, pursuing lordship, wrecking havoc as raiders, developing their lineage, passing on coveted traits to heirs, and more still. Web3, or otherwise called blockchain
technology, gives gamers full control over their gaming experience. The upcoming strategy title combines the best mechanics of top strategy games, from the political strategy of Crusader Kings to the battle of Total War.
BLOCKLORDS: The First Web3 Strategy Title
By fusing the successful aspects of the MOBAs - the focus on creating an environment where players can curate totally unique experiences and forge their own path, and the low barrier to entry - with the timeless and ever-loved strategy genre, BLOCKLORDS is shaping up to be the next great medieval grand strategy game.
Built using Web3, each character in BLOCKLORDS exists as a unique digital asset whose attributes are determined through a combination of its history and player’s decisions. The game is also backed by a player-driven economy and ecosystem, giving players complete ownership over their character and heirs as they battle for their place in the rich and expansive medieval world. BLOCKLORDS makes it easy for anyone to start their epic quest by giving each new player a free starter character.
Could this be the revelation the strategy genre has been waiting for? Follow MetaKings’ social feed or check out the website to find out when you can get a piece of the action.