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Sonic

New Article: State of the C&C Franchise & Where to From Here

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There hasn't been much news to report in the past week or so. So I spent some time piecing together a new article called The State of the Command & Conquer Franchise & Where to From Here. I'm not much of a writer but I wanted to share my own thoughts on what is happening with the Command & Conquer franchise. I also address some of unconfirmed news that has crossed my path, like a rumoured 3 year window. And I discuss the ongoing and ridiculous topics of selling the Command & Conquer franchise. Here's a sample.

First things first, lets just get up to speed on where we stand officially, from EA’s perspective, on the Command & Conquer franchise. Officially and publicly speaking, EA have told us that they are currently investigating the next steps for the franchise. They have also stated that production will resume under a new studio. That is all they have said to this date. And this was all statements made in October and November 2013. I guess its a really long investigation.

 

Now the next part. Over the years, I’ve always gotten news in my inbox that isn’t mean for sharing or I’ve simply deemed it non-newsworthy. This is just what I’ve heard from various sources, rumours and speculation in the past couple of years. It is believed that everything for the Command & Conquer franchise is currently under the watch of DICE Los Angeles, who work on the Battlefield franchise for EA. When everything was packed up after the closure of Victory Games at EA Los Angeles, it was apparently all shipped over to DICE LA. And that’s where it sits, probably in storage, to this day.

 

Check out the full article right here.

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Nice work!

 

 

It is believed that everything for the Command & Conquer franchise is currently under the watch of DICE Los Angeles, who work on the Battlefield franchise for EA. When everything was packed up after the closure of Victory Games at EA Los Angeles, it was apparently all shipped over to DICE LA. And that’s where it sits, probably in storage, to this day.

Very logical due to both studios being in Los Angeles, but why did former official forum moderators say it's BioWare Austin where it's at? Mixed signals seem to be appearing, both arguable.

 

 

And I mean no disrespect towards Petroglyph but in my opinion everything they have produced (in the RTS genre) hasn’t been that exciting or revolutionary.

I think they can't handle pressure. They released Grey Goo earlier this year and it sold relatively well initially, but their post-release support has been bad. Patches were slow, reactions to feedback were slow and elements that are important to competitive players (replays, observer mode) were implemented when few people were left to play it. Not quite a developer candidate for C&C.

 

 

Looking Through a 3 Year Window

This part is just.... wow. Without a CM at all, the hypothetical new game will only be susceptible to the studio's and publisher's whims. They did lose quite a lot of money unnecessarily (gamescom tank, anyone?), but that's still not an excuse.

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Very logical due to both studios being in Los Angeles, but why did former official forum moderators say it's BioWare Austin where it's at? Mixed signals seem to be appearing, both arguable.

 

Either EA was just lazy and told the then current CM that everything whent to Bioware but just shuffled the VG boxes down the street to DICE.

If you are less pessimistic about EA you could always think: Bioware makes RPG's , DICE makes shooters....wich of the 2 genres fits/is easier to handle a c&c franchise? It could be that DICE will produce the next c&c but it might be a Renegade like game instead of a RTS. With the current game climate, RTS don't tide well (read don't make enough profit), FPS (specialy of EA's design with once a year idetions and pre dlc spoofing on a limited content canvas) tide over better, they can always copy paste it onto BF like they did with hardline. Minimum effort and enough people that will jump on the wagon anyway, rake in the fanboys from BF and c&c at the same time.

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I agree with your article.

 

The only way I can see EA handing over C&C to another company is for a gigantic sum of money, but even that is unlikely seeing that EA has never sold the rights of a franchise to another company.

 

As for Ravendark's statement that RTS don't make enough profit is kind of a self fulfilling prophecy in a way. RTS games don't make enough profit because few are made because they don't make enough profit. Those who are made don't attract a big following because they either don't have a budget to make themselves known or the quality of the game is low. The only exception being StarCraft 2 whose popularity is fading due to mismanagement by Blizzard

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Just stop and think to yourself for a minute. Has there ever been an example of a large publisher just giving up a popular franchise before? If there is, I don’t recall anything like that ever happening.

 

Well, Interplay did sell off Fallout to Bethesda around 2004. Not that they were in great shape themselves by then, but unlike THQ they're still around. Technically at least.

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Interplay is barely around and they had TWO (!) bankruptcies in their history. They weren't "just giving out" their IPs, they were selling them to keep existing. It's a big difference.

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By guest is that if C&C is ever coming back, it'll be console focused. Hence, either a shooter or a RPG. Probably a Tiberium reboot on Frostbite.

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I'll try to avoid repeating my previous point of views. Eventually they will be referenced.

 

1 - Selling the IP is different than letting a game developer (Petroglyph) get the job to make the next C&C, because EA would still hold the IP. That's what Victory Games was doing. So I believe Sonic's point in the article is if EA would hand it over to Petroglyph. The answer for me is "NO", maybe the next items explain the reasons;

 

2 - I don't have the source or even if I had deduced from another piece of fact, but I think I read somewhere that Petroglyph started to develop a game, cancel it before public release and ended up developing Grey Goo with publisher Grey Box. So having less money after cancelling a development would explain why they've released Grey Goo too early and being slow to react related to support issues. That's also an argument that in the case EA would want to make a deal with them, the budget wouldn't be a problem this time and with Petro's experience (good or bad), wouldn't stop EA from developing it with them, if they want to;

 

3 - Petroglyph used a proprietary engine in GreyGoo and this means they want to put more effort into it in future games. I think there is a barrier to develop C&C right there. Not concerning capabilities (I can't judge it), but in the case of having a huge company like EA wanting to go into another direction;

 

4 - Petroglyph CEO has an AMA on reddit. He said there he had a major role in Red Alert and/or in the C&C franchise, Red Alert is his preferred game. It's a shallow argument on my end, but I would take that into account before hiring Petroglyph for developing a Tiberium game, for example. At least, long rounds of conversations would take place before anything starts;

 

5 - The fact that companies don't tend to make RTS's is not a barrier for develoing their first one. Any well made game will need man power to deliver quality and that means A LOT of good coders with experience. Even more in the case of a RTS, if you want to have fast development and agile support. I have this naive feeling that bigger companies that has a wider portfolio wants to have their own well stablished RTS, because RTS's are a challenge to face. So RTS's are not market oriented, they are industry oriented. I believe developers want to find a poor excuse to make RTS games. They are the fans or they want to prove they can handle it;

 

6 - Personally, the most awaited RTS for this year is Shipbreakers. It's a ground RTS and might bring new concepts into play. I mean it, my expectatives are high. They have benefited from the outcomes of Homeworld Remastered and GreyGoo. They will try to avoid the same mistakes, I mean. Having that in mind, I believe EA will pay attention to this release and regard the sales performance in their decision making process. Not in terms of doing or not doing the next C&C, but forwarding or delaying more their own project;

 

7 - Unless you have any new information to present, the next C&C will be Generals 2. And I think, as of now, it can only be catalyzed by an external event.

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Unless you have any new information to present, the next C&C will be Generals 2. And I think, as of now, it can only be catalyzed by an external event.

 

Word around the rumor mill from what I've heard is that EA is already secretly working on yet another C&C game. Frankly though, I've heard so many theories it's impossible to tell if any of them are true. I've heard some even mention the possibility of another FPS game.

 

Ultimately, there's no way to know. Back when I spoke with John Van Caneghem, I specifically asked him "If Generals 2 fails, do you think C&C still has a future?"

 

His answer (and I'm going on memory here) was that he thinks it still has at least one more chance. At the time though, I don't think either of us was considering the possibility of failure before the game even left the starting gates.

 

Ultimately, going back to the finer points of the article, for the most part, I agree. EA will never sell the franchise, I feel there's an even less chance that they'll let Petroglyph touch it, and ultimately, as for the future, there's really no way to know what will happen. For all we know, EA might announce a new game next year, or ten years will pass and Red Alert 2 will finally become Freeware. Who knows.

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ten years will pass and Red Alert 2 will finally become Freeware.

I doubt anymore C&C games will become freeware unless there is a new community manager. Ten years might cause it to become abandonware though.
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Word around the rumor mill from what I've heard is that EA is already secretly working on yet another C&C game.

 

If you ask the people who spread the rumours where they get that from, I bet you they'll only link you to copies of that post EA forced VG to write.

 

Ten years might cause it to become abandonware though.

 

If TUC abruptly stops being sold in the meanwhile ;)

Edited by Plokite_Wolf
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I was watching

and it's a pity that game didn't make it. At that time, the marketing alleged the lacking of a single player campaign requested by the fans. Back then, I had this opinion. No to the point of not wanting a game without a SP mode, but I would understand if marketing research was mislead by this result.

 

2 more things about Mktg department. First, they could have made that research before even starting the game.

Second, that said, I still don't believe that it would be a major factor (I'm also implying it wasn't certainly the only factor), but i might be wrong if it was actually a major factor. Don't remember and won't dig that now.

 

Two years later, with RTS releases happening this year, my opinion now is that, whatever someone wants to release as a RTS, just do it, throw what you got and just make the engine modular enough to make other things be done later that you won't have time and money to do upon release. Repeating myself from other threads out there, RTS games are like shipyards now: you throw the hull on the water and build things later. Either the devs or the modders and the fan base will do that, whenever possible. Actually a tip for AAA projects, because it's difficult to forecast a game without any player base visibility (i.e. a big mass of players that know what the company is able to do).

 

Generals 2 was going in a good direction and maybe wasn't ready to deliver and maybe EA didn't want to release if income projections were not optimistic enough. Don't know about F2P to say something.

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Their logic behind this is that since Petroglyph was founded by a core group from what was once Westwood Studios, they should just get it back. Because they are the original owners of Command & Conquer. Sounds utterly ridiculous doesn’t it.

If we ignore business logic for a second and start from the assumption that EA did want to dump the franchise for some reason (and that Petro was interested in the IP) then I think the only ridiculous part would be that EA would give it to Petro instead of sell it to Petro. Original creators should get it back right? Of course you continue on to succinctly explain that Petro isn't Westwood and Westwood isn't coming back which are both true. When Petro was still young and Universe at War was still in development I was one of the people that hoped they were going to be Westwood reincarnated but they're forging a different path.
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Everything C&C is under the BioWare studios/team at the moment, and lots of ideas are being thrown about. And there is only one poor soul that is handling it internally.

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^ SOURCE?

Anyway,

Well decent enough article.

Selling the franchise or "giving it away" is indeed, unlikely, but the next best thing is licensing. Who's to say that's not a viable option, in fact, if someone told you, I'll do all the work, and you get most of the money and can dictate the terms, all we ask is to be able to make the game for you, that's right up EA's Alley,

Obviously it's more complex, but ya.

 

As for not having a CM. just because it would cost allot, well imagine the cost of having a developer/ business admin, etc. take time out of their normal duties for the game and company to run public relations, and read community feedback?

No, that's not a good option at all.

 

CM. marketing &PR exist for reasons, prime among them, to handle issues that come up, so the people focused on internal development don't have to worry about it.

Often some people's job is to make another person, or group of people's job easier.

 

As for the viability of a "3 year plan", a 3 year plan usually means something like, you keep the option on the table, in the back of your mind/ in the shadows for that time, examining the potential, doing research, and considering the possibility for that period. And at the end of that duration you'll crunch all your data, into a full report, and go, this is what we have.

 

A 3 year plan, is Not, sticking something on a shelf for 3 years, "planning" to take it out in 3 years, then figure what to do with it. That's a 3 year postponement.

 

And Indeed, supporting community projects is the way to go, but that should always be true, sure, it's easier to support a community project, when you have a nice healthy official alternative sitting next to you, but supporting them when there is no such product known at this time? That's survival support.

 

The question isn't really, "When / if C&C will return?" and what universe will it be?

 

It's more, "where will you be, and what will you be doing to make sure C&C still lives on, until when/ if that day comes?"

 

Will you be Passive? Aggressive or Active?

 

Ps.

RTS is fundamentally a different genre than most other types of games, for many reasons, prime among them being strategic development. So, asking a team that traditionally skilled in FPS or RPG, to take on an RTS, requires a fundamental shift in what to expect from both the members and the community.

 

I could go on an on about the details, but regardless, my overall point is, RTS takes the longest to design and balance, not to mention support. So, expecting green devs. of any calibre to just bang out an RTS, even if they had all the resources and tools at their disposal is not really realistic, let alone of C&C quality.

 

 

RTS is the hardest to get a minimum viable product.

Edited by Sonic
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