Why is the ‘Twitch’ shooter no longer as prevalent?

Why is the ‘Twitch’ shooter no longer as prevalent?

Years ago before the yearly updates of Call of Duty and such people played games like Unreal tournament and Quake, these games were the place to be back in the late 90’s and even early 2000’s. However the genre has suffered a large decline and whilst the long term fans of the series are still found in the server lobby recruiting people into the genre is a difficult task.

I personally think there are three main suspects in the ‘Who killed twitch shooters’ mystery, Consoles, the military shooter and the law of diminishing returns. Let’s look at this in a bit more detail and give each one a good questioning.

Suspect 1: Console Gaming.

How has it hurt the genre? A controller is most certainly not the ideal way of playing twitch shooters given the twitch style needed that is mainly created by a quick flick of the wrist when using a mouse. Console gaming also hasn’t given easy access to the modding community to keep the games fresh and replayable.

Alibi: Many twitch shooters have indeed made it to the platforms and there is a small amount of mod support available on some home consoles.

Home Consoles have been around both before and after the twitch generation. So there arrival certainly cannot be to blame, however the argument that home consoles are more affordable and more of a living room, family friendly solution to gaming seems to me a good reason to step away from the PC where the genre is at its strongest.

There is obviously a good counter argument to this too, a good PC after all doesn’t actually cost the earth and most of the games now are so old even a cheap system will play the classic popular titles with ease.

Suspect 2: The Military shooter.

How has hurt the genre? Taking on the already established FPS form and giving the player time to think means addictive gameplay that can last for hours at a time rather than frantic short matches. Constant unlocks and upgrades give players a sense of progression that isn’t seen in twitch shooters.

Alibi: It was simply a hole in the market relatively untouched at the time. Military shooters were simply an alternative for those looking for more of a story and in some cases a more realistic experience from the FPS genre.

Games like Call of Duty and the battlefield series have been around for many years. Only recently have they hit the mass audience in terms of their lifespan. Offering a slower more relaxed approach to the FPS genre but still keeping things competitive has meant that these games are easily accessible and newcomers to the FPS scene are more likely to find success quicker.

Once again offering the counter argument twitch shooters slower modes of gameplay and there isn’t much in terms of a learning curve from the slower paced Military options to the likes of Unreal Tournament.

Suspect 3:  The law of diminishing returns.

How has it hurt the genre? The law of diminishing returns is an all too often encountered issue. When the genre peaks and yet more iterations keep coming out with minor changes it simply spreads the community between those in favour of the progression and those who believe there isn’t any need to advance on an already perfected formula.

Alibi: There is always room for improvement, graphics become better and so do physics and the possibilities brought along new game engines. The twitch shooter genre had plenty of chances to adapt and further but stuck with the same formulas.

The law of diminishing returns isn’t just about failing to improve; over saturation has a big part to play in it too. Having too much choice of the same thing also causes people to grow tired of a genre. To break away from FPS’s the Guitar Hero / Rock Band is the classic example of two great games that simply got overdone.


So there are some pretty good reasons why the genre has fallen out of place, but there will always be the loyal following that makes these games last forever. I strongly recommend that anyone with a PC tries out QuakeLive As it is one of the best examples of twitch shooters you can get. It is also free so you have no excuses.

So what do you think? Do you still have a soft spot for twitch shooters? Do you even know what Quake or Unreal Tournament is? And did you enjoy my first article? Comments below!

About Stephen Chapman

A British games enthusiast and avid writer. Likes to write reviews and cool features and discuss games. He can be followed on Twitter through @SuperMassive20
  • http://www.starblindgames.com Christos Chatzisavvas

    Excellent article, Stephen. Every now and then, I boot up some old twitch shooters, even the first Quake on my N64. Your only joy being to kill the person who’s sitting next to you instead of countless levels and the like, is still unbeatable for me. To be honest, I think the reason the military shooters were not at their best back then, in terms of multiplayer, is because they weren’t trying to innovate or even tweak the formula to fit their needs, and just relied on what was there.
    Now, I think twitch shooters have to be very special to attract, and appeal to, the newer generations who haven’t grown up with Unreal, Quake and the like. I cannot define that “special”, wish I did, but I cannot think of a way to get such shooters back on the map, and be as strong as they were. Maybe a new generation Quake, with today’s capabilities and standards? I can’t know if it would feel the same as it did back then, and it would be a risky new release. But there’s always room for a try.

  • http://www.gamesthirst.com Ernice Gilbert

    Good article. Never was into the twitch games you mentioned, but I do see where you’re coming from.


    I also have a question since we’re talking about the law of diminishing returns, do you believe BF3 and COD will eventually become stale?

  • http://www.thegamerpost.com Stephen Chapman

    eventually, they are become stale and very fast. Something will come just like the military shooter did to twitch games and take the crown. Some even say a twitch revival is never off the cards. Time will tell really, glad you enjoyed the article!

  • https://twitter.com/#!/Beta_Beast Martin Zamora

    Cool article Stephen, I really enjoyed it. As for twitch games I’ve heard of both Quake and Unreal Tournament. As a matter of fact I played Quake III at a friend of mine’s house once when I was 10, I really enjoyed the game but unfortunately I moved away.

    As for what you said about a twitch revival, that’s definitely possible since Shootmania will be coming out soon and seems to be gaining some buzz.

  • nick

    id say mostly suspect 2, sadly this generation has been create 1 popular genre and everyone has to copy it!
    instead of having a variety.
    there use to be so many genres, than sub genres and even genres in sub genres.
    but now you have your military shooter, or you have your action shooter like dead space, borderlands, bulletstorm.
    also because the arcade shooters were by far most popular on PC, which has taken a massive decline the past few years and has become the bastard child!
    you look at everything that was prevalent on PC, especially MMOs, have plummeted in popularity the past few years!
    seems that PC gaming is only good for indie games!
    and mods of course……….
    id like to believe that will change though, i remember a interesting interview with cliffy b at E3 this year discussing exactly this, the fall of the arcade shooter thinks like quake arena and unreal tournament, the daddy of the industry!
    he seems confident its taking a slow return, and is confident the studio will eventually do another unreal tournament.
    i hope its soon, UT3 is still one of my favourite games!

  • Wolf1888

    That was a nice article!
    And I totally agree with what Nick said

  • benzo

    I have to go with Suspect 2. I agree with Nick on this one. Just like last gen it was WWII shooters.

  • James P.

    I wish Unreal Tournament was still big, especially with tournaments and streamers and leagues etc. It is the best Twitch Shooter with coolest movements in my opinion. I tried QuakeLive and the bunny hopping is meh… Nowadays games rule that create the illusion of “skill” so the mass market can join in, play, and feel op.

  • jthamind

    just found this article after googling twitch shooters, and i gave it a read. good stuff, with fair and balanced examples!

Scroll To Top