5 Reasons Why EA Isn't Making a New Command & Conquer RTS. Why The Hell Does C&C: Rivals Exist?!!?!
UPDATE: EA has announced that they will be working together with Petroglyph to do a remaster of Command & Conquer and Red Alert. Please note that I do not consider remasters to be new games. It’s nice but it’s not a new Command & Conquer. You can read more about the remaster here.
There it was. Shown on stage, taunting the fans of this RTS classic. EA announced Command & Conquer: Rivals for the mobile platform at E3 2018 and that didn’t go down well. Many questioned EA's move to make it a mobile game. I have a pretty good idea why they did it.
There’s no doubt EA’s E3 2018 presentation’s biggest what the f*** were you thinking moment was the announcement of Command & Conquer: Rivals.
And the manner in which it was announced. The way it was mysteriously brought on stage and teased. And the absolute horror of realising what it was afterwards.
As much as I'd like to think they are doing this just to spite us all, there are reasons for EA's aversion to a proper RTS sequel. Some might be valid reasons and others, frankly were EA's own doing.
So here are the 5 reasons why I believe EA isn't making a proper Command & Conquer RTS sequel for the PC.
#1 Falling Sales. I Hear The Last One Totally Bombed!
Remember Command & Conquer 4: Tiberium Twilight? You probably might have erased that one off from memory.
What would be the best way to move forward from Command & Conquer 3, which was a return to the series classic roots of fast-paced RTS gameplay?
To totally throw what they had, out of the window and completely rework the formula of a Command & Conquer RTS.
C&C 3 had base building. C&C 4 threw that out for one single mobile base. C&C 3 allowed you to amass large armies to assault the enemy base.
C&C 4 was an assault on our intelligence. It had smaller army sizes for what they claim to be more tactical battles. Whose idea was it to include an XP system that required you to grind through the game to unlock new units!
Okay, I've made my point, it was trash. It was NOT Command & Conquer. The fans and the PC gaming audience spoke loud and clear with their wallets.
It might have sold quite well in the first week. But as word got out that it was rubbish, the sales slowed down dramatically. Boxes of unsold units stacked high at retail stores.
#2 Mixed Reviews! You Could Say The Games Weren't Great to Begin With
This is somewhat related to point #1 especially for Command & Conquer 4. But the rot began even earlier than that. Even the Red Alert franchise was not spared from EA's game-changing alterations.
I can only imagine the boardroom meeting where the design of the game was discussed. "Look at how popular and successful StarCraft is. Let's copy that and maybe we'd get huge loads of money".
So instead of improving upon the previous game, they added special abilities that required a high-degree of micro action and 3 distinct factions.
Apart from affecting sales, the bigger impact of poor reviews for Command & Conquer 4 and Red Alert 3 was the fans' fallout of trust and confidence in the studio.
It also had a huge effect on the morale of those people that worked on the Command & Conquer games. I don't doubt one bit, a lot of people worked very hard to get those games out the door.
It's a shame that the hardworking men and women at EA, the designers, the programmers, the artists, were let down by the decisions made higher up at EA.
#3 High Development Costs & Lower ROI
Lead designer, systems designer, AI designer, level designer, artists, programmers, sound engineers, 3D designers, testers, tea lady, janitor. I probably left out 10 other positions, or even more.
Developing a PC game, a strategy game at that is a complex affair. You're going to need lots of expertise to competently put together the various systems and elements of the game together.
This basically means maintaining a strategy game studio was going to be a sizable investment for EA as opposed to running a mobile game development team of five people or so.
I don't exactly know how many people were involved in the development of Command & Conquer: Rivals, but I can bet it's smaller than the teams that did the Command & Conquer RTS.
Add to that slowing sales for their PC RTS games, you can see why they've had a problem with this. EA simply had no idea how to reverse this. Unlike Blizzard, EA simply doesn't have the goodwill of the fans to stay loyal to their games.
Speaking of high development costs, this leads to my next point.
#4 Lack of Talent
What happens to a studio that has a long tradition of developing strategy games when it gets shut down? Their employees are unlikely to stay on with the parent company.
They get absorbed by other development studios and are a loss to EA who now lack the people with the know-how on developing great strategy games.
Maxis, Waystone Games, DreamWorks Interactive, Mythic Entertainment, Bullfrog, and the studio that created the franchise itself, Westwood Studios. These are only a few of the studios that EA shut-down.
It sends a message that EA really doesn't care about the strategy game genre. The last EA strategy game I played was the new (and last) SimCity that released in 2013. The less said about that one, the better.
#5 They Want Moneeeeeyy! Milking The Mobile Cash Cow
Industry experts estimate that mobile gaming revenues would increase to USD$70.3 billion in 2018, making it the largest gaming segment. It's larger than PC gaming and Console gaming combined!
Read that again, mobile gaming is the largest gaming segment from a revenue perspective. It's had a 10-year double-digit growth.
The strategy game genre is a very large part of mobile gaming. It's not unthinkable that strategy game studios or publishers might consider entering the mobile gaming market.
But the downside to it is that games on mobile have to be designed for mobile. This goes beyond UI. Mechanics have to be chopped. Systems have to be simplified to cater to the shorter burst of gameplay activity of mobile gamers.
So About Command & Conquer: Rivals
So getting back to that awful Command & Conquer: Rivals reveal at E3 2018. Despite the negativity to that moment, and to the game itself, it will likely not have any effect.
The thing about mobile games is that reviews don't impact profitability that much. The audience that plays them isn't influenced by what is written about the games.
In fact, they probably aren't even Command & Conquer fans. It was completely unnecessary for EA to reveal Command & Conquer: Rivals on stage at E3 2018.
I speculated that the reveal was simply EA filling in time. EA's presentation this year was very thin and lacking in games. Looking at how little was said about the game, it was probably put together at the last minute.
So what did you think about the reveal and the fate of the Command & Conquer series? Tell me in the comments. I did a video many months back about dead franchises where I touched on Command & Conquer. Check out my video below.
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