The Growth of the Strategy-Based Video Games Market

Ask the average person in the street what kind of action gamers enjoy and you’ll probably get a distorted view. Many people think video gaming’s all about battling flesh-eating zombies or driving fast cars and trying to build up criminal empires.

But they’d be very wide of the mark in this assumption as more and more players are opting to spend their leisure time playing strategy games – ones like an empire building project or a poker game which is focused on creation rather than destruction and which relies far more on brain power than fire power.

A fast-growing market

To find proof of the popularity of strategy games, one only has to look at the figures. According to Cognitive Market Research, in 2023 the total value of the global strategy games market was found to be $18.5 billion. It’s also predicted to grow at the rate of around 7.8% a year between now and 2030.

North America leads the way when it comes to where the projected growth is expected to occur. This is closely followed by Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Among the biggest developers in the strategy games sector are Relic, Creative Assembly and Blizzard. Leading the way is probably the first in the list. Originally established back in 1997 they have subsequently passed through a number of ownerships culminating in acquisition by Sega in 2013. But the strength of the business, and the popularity of their games, has recently enabled them to become independent once again.

Five of the most popular strategy games

It’s a long list when you start to delve into all the strategy games that are being played today, but there are some truly outstanding examples, including these five.

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

Let’s kick off with a game in which Relic was very much involved from the outset. The Age of Empires game franchise launched back in 1997 and Age of Empires II was launched two years later. Following a 2019 update it has found a whole new fanbase keen to start with just two characters and build up an all-conquering army.

Crusader Kings III

Your aim in this game is to keep your leaders safe as you embark on a 500 year campaign of world domination. As well as using subtle politics, players are tested on the battlefield too as they devise strategy and tactics to resist the enemies who would overthrow them. There’s the additional appeal of being able to occupy fantasy lands including the Lord of the Rings and even game of Thrones.

Online poker

Anyone looking for a true test of strategic savvy, mixed with more than a little intuition, could do far worse than indulging in a game of poker. There are many online sites offering the opportunity to play either against a program or real opponents. To succeed in a poker game you need all the same skills as in a video game, with the added bonus that it could also win you real money.

Total War: Warhammer III

For many, this is the finest example of the Warhammer series that covers off different battles from through the ages. But in Warhammer III developers Creative Assembly take us to the Warhammer Fantasy fictional universe for a game that cleverly combines tactical vision for real time battles as well as an overarching war strategy. In the battles they play themselves out needing no actual intervention – and you can even focus in on individual struggles among the participants.

Football Manager

Of course, some of the fiercest battles occur on the sports field – and these need real strategic input. Football Manager has been the leading soccer strategy game ever since it was first launched two decades ago in 2004. It’s so realistic that football managers themselves have used it as a training tool. It’s the perfect choice for anyone looking for a less frenetic alternative to games like EA Sports’ FIFA series – now FC 24.

The appeal of strategy games

We’ve seen just how popular strategy games are, but what are the reasons?

The main one is that not everyone wants to be involved in violent conflicts with the constant fear of being attacked. Sometimes it’s just more relaxing to be able to sit back and approach a game with intellect rather than just quick reactions and aggression.

It can also feel better to be involved in something that is constructive, as opposed to destructive – and this may even be better for a player’s overall mental health.

Finally, there’s the real sense of achievement that doing well in a strategy game can bring. And the more complex the game, the greater the satisfaction.

Looking to the future, advances like AI and virtual reality are set to make strategy games even more involving and immersive. So look forward to even more of us getting caught up in them.

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