There are so many ways to the field. The road can be so curved and variated that i can only recommend you to read on the internet or in books or watch videos to get your answer. But im afraid the answer isnt going to be one and a simple one............wich i guess can be both reassuring and frightening to hear
I have never understood why people ask such questions. I just shake my head and usually place my hand over my eyes and sighs.........because it is subjective. And something like this is very much subjective. I know people who are very hooked on the visuals while others value both and others care fully about gameplay design and story etc. Im a gamer too and i prioritize gameplay before graphics. We are all so different and this is so subjective. One can of course say that the market has a certain "expectation" though.
But personaly i believe it will all work out as long as you officialy state your game's purpose and intention. If it is supposed to have low-end visuals because of stylistic reasons then say that
i didnt bother reading the whole stuff until i raged down to write a reply and here it is:
I personaly think that what makes any film, book or game-idea be "worhty", have "dignity" and a right to be made is if the idea/story is original and anti-cliche. I think for amateurs today, the key to breaking into the industry isnt to make superb visuals (movies) and good gameplay (games), but good STORY!
Thats your way in. Because THAT, the STORY, is what critics today are so unhappy about today:
Every game is repetetive in some way, more or less. But one of the things you dont want to become repetetive is the things making you use your brain alot because that can become exhaustive. You woud also be doing the genre a service by adding a good story. Think about how awesome it woud be if your product got noticed for being a RTS game with strong, intriguing and good story!