Next Command & Conquer goes free-to-play

BioWare Victory's Generals 2 real-time strategy series project now a brand-spanning platform built on the Frostbite 2 engine, set for release next year.

Much has changed since the last time Electronic Arts talked about BioWare Victory's Command & Conquer: Generals 2. The publisher today announced at Gamescom that the real-time strategy project has been converted to a free-to-play business model and that it has been redesigned as a platform that will span the Command & Conquer series history, with Generals merely being the first of the franchise's various worlds offered to fans.

Command & Conquer: Generals 2 is now an F2P platform.

Set for release next year, Command & Conquer will be built on the Frostbite 2 engine (the tech behind games like Battlefield 3 and Need for Speed: The Run) and require players to install a client program on their PCs. EA is promising "an authentic and modern RTS" designed for veterans of the series as well as newcomers. EA is prepping to begin closed beta testing on the game, and has asked would-be testers to sign up on the game's official website.

EA VP and GM Jon Van Caneghem recently took some time to answer GameSpot's questions about the project, including the rationale for the free-to-play switch, what this means for the future of the series as boxed products, and why it will require players to use EA's Origin service.

GameSpot: The jump from packaged goods to downloadable free-to-play game seems like a pretty fundamental change. What was the reasoning behind making the switch?

Jon Van Caneghem: When I joined EA, I shared a vision of moving the franchise to a digital direct-to-consumer platform--a single destination for Command & Conquer games making it easier to play with your friends and allowing us to more easily respond to feedback and update the games. Today is the official announcement of that platform, of that vision realized.

A live platform allows us to be more responsive to community feedback, delivering content that they care about. As developers, this sort of direct and evolving relationship with our audience excites us. Going free-to-play is the best model to use with these goals in mind, because eliminating the price barrier widens the audience and gives us a larger community to interact with.

GS: This sounds ominous for the future of traditional Command & Conquer games. Has EA shelved the franchise as a boxed retail product?

JVC: Traditional Command & Conquer gameplay isn't going anywhere--we are simply adjusting our delivery model to one that allows more consumers to play it and allows us to provide content based on more accurate feedback. EA is committed to spearheading the industry's digital transformation. As a company, we believe that a direct-to-consumer relationship is meaningful and incredibly powerful. That said, we still have fans who want that boxed retail product experience, and we are not walking away from that anytime soon. We still have exciting announcements in the pipeline that will satisfy exactly that type of gamer.

GS: Don't we already have a free-to-play Command & Conquer with Tiberium Alliances? What's the difference between the two games' target markets?

JVC: We are excited to have a great franchise that gamers and fans can experience on different levels and in different ways. Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances is a free, browser based strategy-MMO that introduces a new way for players to experience the Tiberium universe. With over 1 million players in less than three months since launch, the game has carved out a growing passionate community. This new Command & Conquer is a more traditional, full client RTS experience with high-definition graphics, real-time, fast-paced action, full destruction and a best-in-class physics system, all made possible with the power of the Frostbite 2 technology.

Jon Van Caneghem.

GS: How is the free-to-play integration going to work? Will it be the social-style free-to-play of Tiberium Alliances or something closer to a microtransaction-driven market, like League of Legends?

JVC: We are still building out the game, and the exact scope of the advanced experience has not been announced yet. In our development, we are guided by the commitment to create a gameplay experience that offers the cerebral, strategic fun and fast-paced action that fans have come to expect from our franchise with no barrier or resistance.

GS: The name change from Generals 2 to the overarching Command & Conquer (with the Generals universe being the first wave of content) suggests the free-to-play product is a new platform as much as it is a new game, a shell for the rest of the Command & Conquer universe to live within. How much of a shift in the way you approach the series is this?

JVC: "Platform" is definitely how we're approaching the development of Command & Conquer. This is more than a game; it is a free-to-play destination for gamers to access every Command & Conquer universe, from Red Alert to Tiberium and to where it all starts next year: Generals. This is a live service and we are committed to continually delivering content. Heralding feedback-driven design, Command & Conquer will evolve and develop with an expanding array of new content based on community feedback and activity, which is more than we can normally do when shipping a traditional boxed game, benefiting the consumer.

GS: Will there still be a single-player campaign told from multiple viewpoints? How will the business model work in single-player?

JVC: Not at launch. We are currently focused on building a fun, high-quality RTS experience that we want to get in your hands as soon as possible. From there, we will continuously add additional content based on a variety of player feedback.

GS: How big will the initial download for the Command & Conquer free-to-play client be? Are there any concerns about that being a stumbling block for players?

JVC: We are still building out the experience, but our goal is to make the game accessible to download for all players.

GS: Will EA Origin be required for Command & Conquer?

JVC: Yes. Origin will help us deliver content and support that better serves our players and community.

GS: Are you looking at bringing the game to platforms beyond the PC?

JVC: We're fully focused on delivering a high-quality experience on PC at launch.

GS: What impact has the BioWare rebranding had on the studio?

JVC: Both studios are focused on high-quality products, and both studios have a long history on PC, so even before the rebranding we were closely aligned. Having the support of BioWare has been tremendous for us.

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Discussion

0 comments
topgun182
topgun182

Hey EA, just call it Free to NOT play. that is more accurate. I can keep playing Zero Hour, which is free to KEEP playing. When I buy a game, I want a disk and I want to be able to play it when I want, even if my cable is down, or on my laptop if I am away from home. I don't play online only games anymore after you pulled the plug on Motor City Online. Remember that? Imagine playing a game that requires your servers. Never again. Free to play means buying dlc. forever. Not gonna be able to do it. Keep alienating your core fan base and as I said before EA will stand for Empty Accounts.

topgun182
topgun182

This is what I've been waiting years for? I guess I'll keep myself busy with Zero Hour Skirmishes. Not spending a dime on any online only games.

DocManhattan
DocManhattan

Yeah ... No single-player campaign = I'm not interested

 

Never could get fast enough in base-building and resource management to enjoy competing online. People only ever seemed to spam the unit-du-jour and swarm you, anyway. But I did love the single-player C&C gameplay ... Right up until Red Alert 3 and the truly terrible C&C4. But C&C3 and its expansion were brilliant.

raichou
raichou

thnx EA for ruining the sequel to my favourite RTS strategy game of all time. You're becoming worst than Ubisoft. 

toderascu23
toderascu23

"Traditional Command & Conquer gameplay isn't going anywhere--we are simply adjusting our delivery model to one that allows more consumers to play it and allows us to provide content based on more accurate feedback." This phrase! I think this one means the end of C&C series. Forever.

csward
csward

Wow, take one of the more niche games of the modern era and turn it F2P? Gag me EA, what a terrible idea for the franchise.

 

Granted, this is EA's way of saying "we can't compete with Starcraft and we would have to spend a lot more money to do so, so in your face hardcore fans"!

 

F2P now just like Age of Empires and now Command and Conquer, a couple of my favorite RTS franchises ever. God save the industry.

 

I don't think publishers know how to make money from niche titles anymore, so great niche titles get the "red-headed stepchild" treatment nowadays. Publishers aren't taking risks. 

bomber1992
bomber1992

Who else heard has to be downloaded and lsughed at how long it would take?

cccp3000
cccp3000

EA headquarters should be leveled down by a scud storm strike, and finish them once and for all.

daveyf03
daveyf03

Yeah, no thanks EA.  What a stupid idea.

farukcorreia
farukcorreia

Sometimes I feel like we the people who play this games have little or no word at all.

Export
Export

EA is so stupid  , I cant stand this . I would be playing or even looking at it . This free to play crap is just that crap .

rextrio
rextrio

they murdered the best RTS game's sequel.

remiaw
remiaw

Oh no. This doesn't sound good at all

Swordfish_777
Swordfish_777

Why cant they just make a new kind off rts f2p game instead off completely destroying the C&C Collection Generals 2 is the last game that can save Ea`s failure. If it aint broke dont fix it !!! 

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

So I'm curious...why is Bioware working on this? This sounds like it's going to be crap and I'm not sure why Bioware would want to damage their brand any further (see KOTOR, ME3 fan blow up, DA 2 fan blow up). I'm not really sure what Bioware stands for anymore.

Zoberk
Zoberk

Why does every answer this guy gives sound like he's advertising delicious soda?

Red_Jester
Red_Jester

Jesus... Man, I was so excited for PC gaming the last two years and now I'm seeing the entire market shifting to F2P... First consoles games are being dumbed down for their massive mainstream audience and now many of the best PC franchises and developers are jumping ship to the F2P to con more money out of people and provide very narrow and limited experiences compared to their predecessors. Not to mention the handheld market shrinking significantly due to mobile phones. This industry is really getting depressing.EA just couldn't keep their greedy fingers off of JUST ONE GAME. Not only do I hate F2P games, the majority of those people who play them and make Xbox Live seem like a sophisticated forum, but I also realize that the sole reason they exist is for milking out more money than a retail release. The decision to make a F2P game is done solely for profit and not to "better service their community with constant updates" because we all know a successful F2P game will make more money than a retail game and cost significantly less to support the aging, limited, multi-player only product.

 

Even with all that said, I've also seen how EA consistently fails in the F2P space. Battlefield Heroes was great when it launched. It gained a huge community from word of mouth and upon seeing those numbers of players, EA immediately became greedy, jacked up the prices on virtual items and turned the game into an inarguable pay-to-win game. They did the same with Battlefield Play 4 Free and Need For Speed World. They offer virtual cars for $100 each and no that is not a joke. Imagine what sweet units they'll be charging you $100 for in this game. Also, unlike other less popular F2P games out there, EA all but eliminates support for their games if they aren't performing well. They'll keep taking your money, though.

 

So there's likely two outcomes and neither of which are good. Either C&C becomes hugely successful and EA immediately ruins the game with pay-to-win micro-transactions or the game is not successful, about after a year all support for the game will essentially end.Sorry for the long rant.

rextrio
rextrio

NOOOOOOO don't destroy C&C: Generals 2

codeman101360
codeman101360

Oh, another pay-to-win EA game. That's a shocker.

commanderkai
commanderkai

Dear EA,

Why don't you just set the entire Command & Conquer franchise on fire in your main parking lot and be done with it? Give this once great franchise and its many fans a quick death, instead of dismantling the entire series game by game. I mean, how hard is it to just stick with the working formula? Base building+Simple resource collection+Diverse factions+Lots of units=PROFIT. It's not hard.

Devilish102
Devilish102

What the f**k, I hate free to play game, why the hell they turn this game into bitch.

Free to play games usually focus on multiplayer experience, I want expensive singleplayer experience. 

Neo017431
Neo017431

Lets try to track the downfall of pc gaming especially single player, for the I told you so inevitable future. the first C&C was released in 1995 came in a box with splendid artwork, cd and manual, reasonably priced a full single player campaign and didn't need any patches as I played it all the way through and was a happy bunny.

 

Around 2007 big business takes over (EA) wanting more money for less effort, 2007 also the time in which the first free to play models were starting to grow. 2008 first DRM introduced in game to really piss people off. and now news that C&C is going free to play with no single player, where you will have to buy the game in small chunks which end up costing you many times the price of a stand alone game.

 

I left out dlc which used to be part of a full game is now sold after to you at an extra cost, and most games today are shipped between a beta and a fully debugged version to be tested by you the consumer and fixed later with patches but only if the game sells well. I for one will only buy stand alone games and boycott any free to play bullshit.

 

I say to EA you just lost my money, so go fuck yourself!

IndiePrower
IndiePrower

o GS: The jump from packaged goods to downloadable free-to-play game seems like a pretty fundamental change. What was the reasoning behind making the switch?

o JVC: When I joined EA, I shared a vision of moving the franchise to a digital direct-to-consumer platform--a single destination for Command & Conquer games making it easier to play with your friends and allowing us to more easily respond to feedback and update the games. Today is the official announcement of that platform, of that vision realized.

A live platform allows us to be more responsive to community feedback, delivering content that they care about. As developers, this sort of direct and evolving relationship with our audience excites us. Going free-to-play is the best model to use with these goals in mind, because eliminating the price barrier widens the audience and gives us a larger community to interact with.

 

o GS: Will there still be a single-player campaign told from multiple viewpoints? How will the business model work in single-player?

o JVC: Not at launch. We are currently focused on building a fun, high-quality RTS experience that we want to get in your hands as soon as possible. From there, we will continuously add additional content based on a variety of player feedback.

 

^These are enough to convince me NOT to BUY. "Easier to play with friends" eat my ass, where was my LAN mode in CnC4 again? Responsive community feedback? I guess people at EA doesn't count those negative "CNC4 sucks", "CNC4 pathetic", "CNC4 trash" coming from the true fans as feedback. They are just getting more responsive to feedbacks which allows them to feed on consumers more and more and they can just don't care about the game quality anymore by hiding under the "this was your feedback, what you wanted" based arguements.The game is free, but no singleplayer at launch. I don't remember CnC being an MMO, they don't want to admit the game turns into MMO, and at this point we can safely say that CnC is no longer a product, but more a service. Because there's no way a product will be sold for free, unless it's trash. You pay nothing, you get nothing.

 

And then all those DLCs will come and all will goes like, oh here's a USA campaign, for 15$. Oh here's China campaign, for 15$. Oh here's GLA campaign, for 15$. Oh here's 4 new maps with 12 extra units, for 15$. Here's another 4 new maps with 6 new structures for 15$. Here are new special 6 units available for 5$ each. And then before you realize, you already paid more than what you should. And then before you could even blinkIntroducing : Red Alert 4 coming soon in 2014!!!Seriously... when did business went from capital -> product -> consumers -> profit

into promise -> consumers -> profit -> product ????

Drakillion
Drakillion

*A few months ago*

A'wwwww hell yeah! C&C: Generals 2? With Frostbite 2.0 engine? Headed by BIOWARE?!

 

*Today*

EA: Yeah, it's going to be F2P. I know, awesome, right? :3

....FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-

 

I'm also willing to be $5 that mod support is gone *sad panda

KhanhAgE
KhanhAgE

EA just keeps on finding new ways to piss on this franchise. It's unbelievable. There should be an award for this.

deadmonkey76
deadmonkey76

I pray that free to play tanks if not gaming will have changed for the worst and I will then be spending more time with my playboys and bottle of vaseline

ioriaddison
ioriaddison

AOE online seems to be a failure. Yet EA is stepping onto it?

Great news I heard today.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

It's going to suck.  Like every Command and Conquer game EA has produced after gutting Westwood.

phantom3165
phantom3165

I call bullsh@t this is not to bring a better experience it's to control content better to prevent pirating and to charge more for content that should come with the actual game. If they wish to go this route they will dry their well up fast and leak developers until they are no more. Good luck with this ridiculous venture.

Johny_47
Johny_47

If the next game is anything like red alert 3 or tiberian twighlight I wouldn't care at all because those are crap and EA just doesn't learn.

 

Generals 2 though, I seriously hope that's a regular game, no 'free' to play or day one dlc rubbish, just a good game.

danyjr
danyjr

I think League of Legends is a good model of 'Free to Play'.

Renoo27
Renoo27

 @farukcorreia

 That's definately the feeling on the C&C forum. We're all extremely bummed about this. What gripes me the most, apart from this being an obvious move for EA to milk off the C&C franchise, is that the series doesn't have a chance to evolve with the Command and Conquer platform.

Renoo27
Renoo27

 @Red_Jester

 Don't apologize man, it needs to be said. You are absolutely spot on.

vackillers
vackillers

 @IndiePrower You should copy/paste this comment to the command and conquer official forums and start a thread going there... from where i've gathered from about 6 different websites, and a lot of youtube videos with from vents commenting on this, its mainly the no singleplayer elements that are really not going down well, and EA/DICE need to relize this is not what people want, i left a comment over there myself, but not many ppl go on the official forums because its heavily moderated. I myself cant play this game at least without a skirmish mode, if it doesn't even have that !!! then its an MMO, plain and simple, you cant beat around the bush about that fact.. rediculas..

vackillers
vackillers

 @Drakillion there will never be mod support now for this game... and i had my doubts about it in the first place that we would ever get mod support since its using the frostbite 2 engine which ea/dice and absolutely anal about letting anyone even bark at that code... because we're all stupid, remember? from the imfamous patrick bach interview last year when asked....

ZoTrAcK
ZoTrAcK

 @Renoo27  @farukcorreia there's need to see a depopulation from these forums... that would speak loudier than any post...

Renoo27
Renoo27

 @ZoTrAcK  @farukcorreia

 As long as their games are being bought/downloaded and keeping the machine going, I don't think EA care much about the forums. What we need is to simply not download this piece of sh**. It's the only language EA understands. They'll see no one's buying in to it, it's not making them any profits, and they'll be forced to abandon it.