EA’s announcement to shift Generals 2 to a multiplayer-focused free-to-play service called “Command and Conquer” has been met with vitriol from C&C fans. The singleplayer “community” (if you can call singleplayer gamers a community) is irritated for obvious reasons, and the multiplayer community is conjuring up images of an unfair pay-to-win online experience. The fear, which is perfectly justified, is that people who spend money on the game will have an unfair advantage against those who do not.
While that sounds terrible, let me paint another picture for you: EA could have spent too much time and budget on a singleplayer campaign, while neglecting good gameplay fundamentals - ultimately releasing a product with a story that barely rates above B-movie quality. Meanwhile the people who wanted singleplayer will spend 6-10 hours pretending they enjoyed it, and will subsequently shelve the game because singleplayer offers little, if any, replay value (they’ll “use it and lose it” so to speak). The multiplayer crowd then loses out because the core gameplay is underdeveloped.
That rosy little picture describes with exacting precision, the approach EA has used to drive the C&C franchise into the ground. It simply does not work anymore (unless of course it’s your goal to drive an RTS franchise into the ground...). Given that we have had almost 5 years of EA blowing development budget / bandwidth on singleplayer while neglecting gameplay and multiplayer, a free-to-play multiplayer-focused game suddenly sounds like a whole bunch of yes please.
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