People crave RTS games, yet when they come out they are not super successful. Grey Goo, the Act of Aggression which had a C&C Generals kind of gameplay, those were supposedly all games players wanted. Act of Aggression even listened to their player base and released a second version of the game after a lot of work, for nothing.
FAF is going strong, yes, because Supreme Commander is the best RTS there is but FAF is a few thousand people, nothing compared to the playerbase of other games.
For me, Ashes failed not because of the graphics or requirements, it was simply the gameplay. I guess I hoped for a complex gameplay like in Supreme Commander, troop transporters, Eco, more freedom in troop placement and movement. Me and my friends waited for Navy to be implemented and so on. All those things promised before and during release.
I think an Ashes similar or mimicking Supreme Commander with the new game engine could be a major hit. Supreme Commander FA2 on a modern platform that can scale... OMG!
My personal preference is different, I'm not sure if that's just a difference or one is more "marketable".
A big problem I see in RTS games is they (understandably) struggle to do anything innovative.
Shooters, for example, have come from Goldeneye to Modern Warfare (or Fornite). Action adventures from Grim Fandango to Witcher 3.
RTS games like Ashes (or SupCom) just aren't as big jumps from say C&C. (on top of lacking the more addictive elements of an RPG or looter shooter).
I really like Ashes gameplay. It's more like chess with simpler units rather than 50 unbalanced unit varieties. But then, I wasn't looking to play Sup Com 2.
Where I see the future, and what Ashes was doing, was removing the "actions per second" mechanic that make games like Starcraft problematic. If you can offload a lot of that to the AI, you can play more grand strategy.
Which is why, IMO, Ashes just struggled with computing requirements (in part being of a new engine) and marketing.
But I think it's a great game and one I keep returning too.