What now for the Command & Conquer franchise?
That Command and Conquer Franchise is a complete mess. At least that’s how I feel. Since the days of Westwood Studios, the franchise has gone from bad to worse, ending with dread Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight. I must say that the last decent C&C title was generals and its extension hour zero.
With a heavy heart I read Peter’s story on the Command and Conquer canceled yesterday. I’ve only been playing the alpha test for about five days, so to say the news was “a little frustrating” would be an understatement. The bottom line is that it’s done and win games don’t exist anymore. A sad day for the franchise and a sad day for the Victory team.
For the past 12 months, EA has been telling us how this reboot was the way forward – a free-to-play Command and Conquer the original life when began C&C Generals 2. A quick rebrand later and EA screamed about what that was like Command and Conquer Gaming fans expect and want.
So what’s up? I wish I could fully answer this question, but that would be pure speculation on my part. To get an idea it might be helpful to look at the current market and also what has happened to the other F2P RTS out of the can end of the nations.
I think publishers are wary of the traditional RTS gameplay model that started with it dune 2 at Westwood Studios all those years ago. The idea of building a base and raising money seems to scare every publisher except Blizzard, who stick to a tried-and-true formula for doing so star ship Franchise, although there have been few releases in this franchise since the first game hit the scene.
C&C4 was an experiment that went very wrong and strayed from the basic elements that define it C&C franchise and creating a multiplayer game that was just bad on so many levels.
It seemed like EA learned its lessons from that Command & Conquer 4 Disaster and the news of a franchise reboot were welcomed with open arms. The problem with C&C There are so many games now, all made by different development teams and all different from each other, that it’s lost all cohesion.
Although the franchise has been split up Red alert and Command and Conquer, it worked. The game worlds were very different, although the gameplay was essentially the same. The first two Red alert Titles were solid releases that did that C&C Names proud… but that didn’t last long.
When Westwood Studios closed and EA took over, it looked like the franchise would be saved generals Releases, and at least most of the key gameplay elements that define the franchise, have been retained in one piece.
The new C&C played by Victory like generals with multiple factions, resource harvesting and base building. It’s a tried and tested formula with the main difference being that it was free to play – and they had to somehow monetize the game by selling the various generals and the powers that come with them. The problem with this model was that the Generals had to be quite different from each other to be worth buying, and that’s where the novelty might lie C&C failed in the early test phase.
It’s also worth noting that some game modes should be sold as a premium feature. Even 1v1 matches looked like they would be banned. That would have been a pretty crazy move by EA.
Remember TRION end of the nations? Many of the developers who worked on the original version worked on the original C&C title, but – out of the blue – the plug was pulled, which could in addition be considered a more traditional RTS model. The game was brought to TRION internally and has since become another MOBA focused on single commander units with a very small team of sub-units.
TRION obviously felt that the market for a F2P RTS just wasn’t there and with the rise in popularity of MOBAs they switched to this model. Also, it would be easier to monetize the game by selling individual commando units than providing entire armies.
So why now? Command and Conquer? I would be very disappointed if this great looking game was reduced to a MOBA. It would be a complete waste of that C&C Surname. Let’s face it, there are now about 10 billion MOBAs with three main titles – dota 2, League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth – occupy a significant part of the market. It wouldn’t be easy even for a title to compete in this space C&C.
EA should release campaign missions for this new one C&C Early next year and maybe they felt like that was just giving away too much and that these missions weren’t going to satisfy the core fandom. There are currently three free-to-play generals from each faction, all very different, and I know I wouldn’t be inclined to buy the other, slightly different generals. I just don’t think it would increase my enjoyment of the game.
Victory Games sums up the situation quite well in their post:
Part of being a creative team is understanding that not all decisions will work. In this case, we moved the game away from campaign mode and built an economy-based multiplayer experience. Your feedback on the Alpha Trial is clear: We don’t make the game you want to play. For this reason, after much difficult deliberation, we have decided to stop the production of this version of the game. While we deeply respect the great work of our talented team, ultimately it’s about bringing you the game you expect and deserve.
we believe that Command and Conquer is a strong franchise with huge potential and a great story, and we’re committed to bringing out the best game as soon as possible. To this end, we have already started examining a series of alternatives to get the game going again. We look forward to sharing more news about the franchise as it develops. Thank you again for your participation and support.
After playing all C&C Game from start to finish, the campaign has always been an important part of the experience and this reboot doesn’t focus on the single player aspect at all. Sure, campaign missions would have been released, but the team probably wouldn’t have had the time to make an engaging campaign while continuously supporting multiplayer to bring in the money. Next, C&C wouldn’t be complete without some cheesy custscenes.
EA could now consider taking the game from a free-to-play model back to a retail model with a full campaign and a more traditional multiplayer model, as that would at least mean the long-term risk is less. They get the money upfront, rather than trying to pedal microtransactions, and are constantly developing new Generals that differ only slightly from those already available.
Speaking of cash upfront, one of the perks of buying The Ultimate Collection, which included almost every previous C&C game, was access to the alpha. To date, there hasn’t been a word from EA about refunds for anyone who bought the collection. Many fans only bought the collection for alpha/beta access and that is not available now as few players have actually been granted access yet. I would hope that EA would refund buyers of the TUC, but we’ll have to wait and see.
This reboot of C&C looked great thanks to the Frostbite engine and played pretty well in this alpha test. Without a larger pool of players, it’s hard to say how well it would be received, but pushing it into a beta phase and then canning it would likely make things worse for fans of the series, franchise, and EA.
Immediately after this article was compiled, a former Victory Game employee stated that the decision to abandon the game was “total bullshit” and “dejected, but just petty corporate politics and shenanigans,” which doesn’t sound good for the future of the franchise .
I hope EA manages to redesign the game and restore the franchise to its former glory. C&C and Red alert are two of the best RTS games ever made, and Westwood founders Brett Sperry and Louis Castle are in tears at what has happened to their franchise over the years.
Come on EA! get yours C&C Fix the house once and for all, or at least sell the franchise to someone who actually wants to do something with it.