Strategy video games are categorized based on whether they offer the continuous gameplay of real-time strategy, or the discrete phases of turn-based strategy. These differences in time-keeping lead to several other differences. Typically, turn-based strategy games have stronger artificial intelligence than real-time strategy games, since the turn-based pace allows more time for complex calculations. But a real-time artificial intelligence makes up for this disadvantage with its ability to manage multiple units more quickly than a human. Overall, real-time strategy games are more action-oriented, as opposed to the abstract planning emphasized in turn-based strategy.
The relative popularity of real-time strategy has led some critics to conclude that more gamers prefer action-oriented games. Fans of real-time strategy have criticized the wait times associated with turn-based games, and praised the challenge and realism associated with making quick decisions in real-time. In contrast, turn-based strategy fans have criticized real-time strategy games because most units do not behave appropriately without orders, and thus a turn-based pace allows players to input more realistic and detailed plans. Game theorists have noted that strategic thinking does not lend itself well to real-time action, and turn-based strategy purists have criticized real-time strategy games for replacing “true strategy” with gameplay that rewards “rapid mouse-clicking”. Overall, reviewers have been able to recognize the advantages associated with both of the main types of strategy games.