What Happened To The Amazing Stronghold Series

Firefly Studios hasn't been able to come up with something that could help it relive its glory days.

what happened to the amazing stronghold series
what happened to the amazing Stronghold series

The Stronghold series once stood as a beacon of medieval warfare and castle-building. However, with the addition of each new entry, the franchise is only getting worse over time.

It really baffles me how Firefly Studios hasn’t been able to come up with something that can rival their past, even after being in the industry for over two decades now.

Key Takeaways

  • The Stronghold franchise had a great start in the RTS genre. However, its downfall over the decades suggests the initial success could have been accidental.
  • The new launches lack any revolutionary innovation, and fans are tired of getting the same things in worse-than-before form.
  • Not understanding and complying with fans’ demands is another reason Firefly Studios failed to reach its former glory.
  • Incorporating 3D technology could be another reason the new games fail to bring back the nostalgia of those 2D OG releases.

It seems like they act utterly oblivious to their fans’ demands and are adamant about sticking to something widely disapproved by the fans. Looking back at the masterpieces, I can only assume the developers were lucky, and Stronghold 1 and Crusader were only a fluke. Well, here is my analysis of the downfall of one of the best Real-time Strategy game series from the early 2000s:

Lack Of Innovation And Optimization

There is nothing revolutionary or innovative about the new releases. The games work in the same pattern as the ones before. The developers are just ”reinventing” their previous releases with minor changes, promising it will be better than before. However, even their promises are proving to be empty.

While there have been efforts at re-devising the mechanics of new entries, nothing innovative or out of the box can be seen. Stronghold: Warlord is an excellent example of this strategy. Even recreating their successful releases can prove to be a turning point for Firefly Studios, but that seems like an idea that most developers do not think about or aren’t interested in.

stronghold warlord snapshot
A snapshot from Stronghold: Warlord

In addition to this, the games are usually poorly optimized, and you will feel the lag as soon as you install a few units on the ground. 

Transitioning To 3D

Thanks to 3D, we got a chance to see and enjoy many concept art come to life. However, the opposite is also true for this technology. It messed up many OGs badly, including the Stronghold series.

Now, I do agree that Stronghold: Warlord is the best 3D game of the series, but I believe transitioning from 2D to 3D in Stronghold 2 wasn’t a good idea. 

One of the things that made Stronghold 1 and Stronghold: Crusader good was their 2D graphics. It might have been the trend and demand of the rising technology, but this has done no good to the original series. In my opinion, this is also a reason why new titles don’t feel nostalgic. 

Moving In The Opposite Direction

Listen to the fans and provide them with what they want, and you will have all your problems sorted. But it seems like a task that is too big for Firefly. All they had to do was revisit their classic hits, take inspiration, and expand them instead of trying irrelevant ideas.

For example, Stronghold: Warlord has comparatively small maps, which makes no sense. The game could have had a bigger appeal if it featured bigger maps, castles, more options for trade, and expansive interactive features related to economy and in-game activities.

Similarly, Warlord is mainly focused on building castles, and there is no focus on optimizing and providing an enhanced combat experience. While reading a thread on Reddit, I came across a comment about how they could have taken inspiration from Age of Empires 2 and I couldn’t agree more.

stronghold definitive edition stats
Stronghold: Definitive Edition Steam charts stats

The persistence of these issues has certainly disappointed and pushed away a large chunk of the fans. Consequently, the series’ recent release, Stronghold: Definitive Edition, is now getting less than a thousand daily logins on Steam

I think staying connected to the community and listening to their demands can solve all problems for Firefly Studios. If that happens, we might witness one of the best comebacks in Real Time Strategy games’ history. Even though this seems like a lost cause, we should always expect the unexpected.

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