Real-time strategy

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Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty (1992) is one of the first real-time strategies.

Real-time strategy (RTS) is a genre of video game where the player is expected to devise and carry out a strategy in real time. Most RTSes also rely on carefully managing resources to build, maintain, and upgrade game units. Strategy games that don't happen in real-time are called turn-based strategy games, and games where the player is expected to handle devise and carry out strategies without complex resource management are called real-time tactics. Many game sites don't make a distinction between real-time strategy and real-time tactics, but I think their difference is significant enough to warrant a different name.

The genre is an evolution of real-time tactics and began to take form as early as 1989 with Populous, ActRaiser (1990), and Realms (1991), but it became especially popular in 1992 with the release of Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty which really cemented the genre's formula. It was Brett Sperry who, during the promotion of the Dune II, coined the term "real-time strategy" to describe the style of play. Some of the most popular real-time strategy games include the Command and Conquer series, the WarCraft and StarCraft series, and the Age series.


WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness was the first real-time strategy game that I played heavily, and it kindled my interest in Myth: The Fallen Lords and Age of Empires. I've tried playing a couple other games in the genre, but I usually find them to be too similar, and become bored with them pretty quickly.


This is a list of real-time strategies that are important to me. For all games in this genre, see the real-time strategy category.

Title Released Developer
ActRaiser 1990-12-16 Quintet
Age of Empires 1997-10-15 Ensemble Studios
Stronghold 1993-??-?? Stormfront Studios
WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness 1995-12-09 Blizzard Entertainment


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