Command & Conquer wants to avoid 'pay to win'

Free-to-play games have been around for over a decade now, but many companies have been slow to explore the business model and even slower to make it not feel awful or exploitative. With the new Command & Conquer, it seems Electronic Arts may have the hang of it. Victory Games general manager Jon van Caneghem has detailed the sorts of things it'll sell in the free-to-play RTS, trying to avoid being "pay to win."

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Free-to-play games have been around for over a decade now, but many companies have been slow to explore the business model and even slower to make it not feel awful or exploitative. With the new Command & Conquer, it seems Electronic Arts may have the hang of it. Victory Games general manager Jon van Caneghem has detailed the sorts of things it'll sell in the free-to-play RTS, trying to avoid being "pay to win."

"It's our goal to give players full access to a fun RTS game with no barrier to entry," van Caneghem--who long ago created Might & Magic, fact fans--said in a blog post. "All factions, units, maps, and game modes will be available to everyone from the start."

Monetisation, then, will come with extras and services. EA plans to sell three main things: visual and cosmetic customisation options; boosters to help you level up faster "for more choices" (presumably meaning unlocks); and alternative generals.

Generals, you may recall, are sort of sub-factions for C&C. They largely share their faction's core army but focus on a specific area, with unique abilities, units and taunts. Van Caneghem gives the example of an air-oriented general, who can get stronger and faster aircraft, and perhaps call in airstrikes, but has weaker ground units. Other generals may focus on stealth units, tanks, rushing, turtling, and so on. He insists they're "all balanced against each other" though.

Supposedly you'll be able to buy everything with either earned or paid currencies; hopefully the prices in earned currencies won't demand unreasonable amounts of grinding.

One of EA's earlier cracks at F2P, Battlefield Heroes, was condemned as pay-to-win by fans, after EA bumped the prices for items in earned currencies so high that only the most hardcore could afford them.

Command & Conquer is due on PC later this year. It'll launch with the Generals universe, but Victory hopes to add the C&C worlds of Tiberium, Red Alert and even something new later.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 12, 2013 6:00 AM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, Command & Conquer wants to avoid 'pay to win'.

    Free-to-play games have been around for over a decade now, but many companies have been slow to explore the business model and even slower to make it not feel awful or exploitative. With the new Command & Conquer, it seems Electronic Arts may have the hang of it. Victory Games general manager Jon van Caneghem has detailed the sorts of things it'll sell in the free-to-play RTS, trying to avoid being "pay to win."

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      March 12, 2013 6:10 AM

      don't want pay to win? then stop focusing on microtransactions you idiots.

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        March 12, 2013 6:26 AM

        micro-transactions done necessarily mean pay 2 win.

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          March 12, 2013 6:36 AM

          done=dont

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          March 12, 2013 6:38 AM

          pay-to-have-fun is how I'd describe it then.

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          March 12, 2013 7:18 AM

          Planetside 2 has done this very well.

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            March 12, 2013 7:36 AM

            So has League of Legends. I've spent more money on skins than I care to admit.

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            March 12, 2013 1:58 PM

            No way. PS2 is extremely pay to win. I am having lots of fun in the game, but honestly, if you paid literally nothing, you would not be able to contribute nearly as much. No boost, no bonus xp, no extra weapons (meaning it takes you 2-3 months to get one?).

            Tribes:Ascend was better, in that you only had a handful of weapons to even purchase. I only put in my initial $30 and just with purely hours played have like 95% of the content (with enough XP to purchase everything else). Even that was still mildly pay-to-win, because you purchase weapons, and weapons do have clear advantages (even if only sometimes).

            For a game to not be pay-to-win, it would have to be only cosmetics. Even that in PS2 though matters, because the camo can really make a difference, and those are not cheap at all ($5 for an in-game skin?).

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          March 12, 2013 8:06 AM

          [deleted]

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          March 12, 2013 11:53 AM

          Pay 2 Hat

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      March 12, 2013 6:21 AM

      Since EA is so well known for their quality F2P offerings, like Real Racing 3.

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      March 12, 2013 6:37 AM

      How about "pay to fun"?

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      March 12, 2013 6:50 AM

      [deleted]

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        March 12, 2013 7:00 AM

        this is a mistake..Planetside 2, Tribes Ascend are all great F2P games

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          March 12, 2013 7:03 AM

          [deleted]

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            March 12, 2013 7:09 AM

            League of Legends? DotA2?

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              March 12, 2013 7:33 AM

              Dota2 isn't F2P though; it's just in a long beta. Valve hasn't said anything about Dota2's pricing structure.

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              March 12, 2013 7:40 AM

              dota2 is the only game that has done f2p correctly and it's probably because they already had an established audience to stand on which allowed them to structure their monetization strategy the way it is. it's the only game that truly has a shop with no game-affecting purchases. even the xp boost only gets you cosmetics faster.

              everything else is garbage.

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                March 12, 2013 8:37 AM

                I agree with this, I tried planetside but that free to play model they use drive's me nuts.

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                  March 12, 2013 12:32 PM

                  I agree. Between the boredom of waiting for points to cap and the lack of having decent anti air counters as an infantryman (without buying more), I don't think ill be playin ps2 again

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                March 12, 2013 10:20 AM

                League of Legends does exactly the same.

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                  March 12, 2013 10:36 AM

                  No, it doesn't. You pay to unlock heroes and you have to grind for runes. In DOTA 2, everyone is on even footing.

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                    March 12, 2013 11:00 AM

                    You play to unlock heroes and/or runes or you can chose to pay for heroes. But that still doesn't give you an advantage over other players.

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                      March 12, 2013 11:32 AM

                      I played League of Legends for over 400 hours and never spent a dime on it. I didn't even come remotely close to unlocking half the heroes or a good collection of runes. It was total bullshit, and yes, I was at a disadvantage.

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                        March 12, 2013 11:54 AM

                        I've played League of Legends for over 400 hours and never spent a dime on it. I have 40 000 ip saved, all the champs and runes I want, and I'm in gold league.

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                        March 12, 2013 12:25 PM

                        That's just bullshit.

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                          March 12, 2013 12:57 PM

                          Answer me this - why would league even create different heroes that you could play and charge extra money if there wasn't some advantage with playing those heroes?

                          It's bs to say you don't have an advantage

                          Just like I had a huge advantage playing tf2 as a scout w the milkman set back in the day

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                            March 12, 2013 1:36 PM

                            For the variety.

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                            March 12, 2013 1:44 PM

                            They keep releasing new heroes to keep the game fresh. If you look at the pro-matches, most champions that are picked are really old. So new champs don't change the game at all and if they would you can buy them without spending money on them.

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          March 12, 2013 7:05 AM

          The F2P aspect of TA was shit imho.

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            March 12, 2013 7:06 AM

            [deleted]

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            March 12, 2013 2:41 PM

            Tribes Ascend was never different enough to not constantly remind me of the things I liked about Tribes and Tribes 2 that were missing. Especially the way it dealt with load outs for the purpose of microtransactions... nope. I loved customizing load outs.

            At least Tribes: Vengeance was different enough my mind could separate it and accept it as it's own thing. Plus they did a pretty great job with the Tribes lore in singleplayer.

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          March 12, 2013 7:32 AM

          Isn't Planetside 2 pay-to-win though? Or at least pay-to-advantage due to having access to unlocks faster.

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            March 12, 2013 7:38 AM

            Paying definitely accelerates the rate at which you earn XP, which in turn accelerates the rate at which you can unlock new weapons/skills/etc. But if you roll with a decent squad (sup GCR) that get involved in pitched battles instead of massive zergs that steamroll everything, you'll still be able to earn at a decent rate.

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        March 12, 2013 7:10 AM

        WHAT WILL THOSE GAMES EVER DO WITHOUT YOUR LOVE. JOHNNY YOU NEED TO FIND YOUR NEW NOTCH

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          March 12, 2013 7:29 AM

          [deleted]

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            March 12, 2013 7:39 AM

            If you want to see crap in everything, you'll just see crap.

            MWO, LoL, Dota2, TF2, T:A, Blacklight Retribution, Hawken and so many more.

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              March 12, 2013 7:45 AM

              [deleted]

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                March 12, 2013 8:18 AM

                Most games aren't good, so it shouldn't surprise you that the trend continues with F2P.

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                March 12, 2013 8:24 AM

                clearly you havent actually tried any of the games he listed there. the pay model doesnt get in the way at all.

                the games he listed there are some of the best MP games that have been released over the past few years. fuck, he didnt even mention PS2.

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              March 12, 2013 7:46 AM

              in my definitely not humble opinion F2P effing ruined TF2 >:(

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                March 12, 2013 7:47 AM

                [deleted]

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                  March 12, 2013 8:04 AM

                  Dota 2 is perfect-o.

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                    March 12, 2013 8:07 AM

                    yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup

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                  March 12, 2013 8:13 AM

                  League of Legends. There wouldn't be new content every month if it wasn't free to play.

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                  March 12, 2013 8:20 AM

                  Gee, how about the games that would never exist without F2P? I would say not having Planetside 2 or Tribes: Ascend or MWO is a way worse world than having F2P versions.

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                    March 12, 2013 8:23 AM

                    [deleted]

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                      March 12, 2013 8:33 AM

                      F2P is a great thing for this industry, because it gives an alternate funding mechanism for games that would not be able to get off the ground if they had to depend on the traditional model.

                      Saying F2P ruins games is like saying Kickstarter ruins games.

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                        March 12, 2013 8:36 AM

                        the key is having F2P implemented in a way that doesnt significantly impact the game. obviously we have a lot of great games that have done this well, I dont know if EA is capable of it though.

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                          March 12, 2013 8:56 AM

                          Ohhh, I fully expect the F2P model in C&C to blow chunks.

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                        March 12, 2013 8:55 AM

                        [deleted]

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                          March 12, 2013 8:59 AM

                          Just off the top of my head, Path of Exile and Marvel Heroes are being funded as they're made. I'm sure many others are too.

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                            March 12, 2013 9:02 AM

                            [deleted]

                            • reply
                              March 12, 2013 9:11 AM

                              The money goes towards microtransaction points.

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                                March 12, 2013 9:44 AM

                                This is how the T:A beta worked. You were basically buying a bunch of gold and XP and got beta access along with it.

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                              March 12, 2013 9:32 AM

                              The fact that MWO would never have been made under the "traditional" model, but can succeed since it is designed as a F2P game from day one, shows that at least publishers treat the funding mechanisms very differently.

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                          March 12, 2013 9:58 AM

                          [deleted]

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                      March 12, 2013 11:23 AM

                      I think it makes a lot of sense. They tried to make a new MechWarrior game but they couldn't get funding and it failed... so they went F2P and now we have MWO which is amazing! We literally would not have a new MechWarrior game if it wasn't for that model. I think the old shitty stigma surrounding F2P comes from the early days when it was just crap games trying to pull money of people with no actual value. Now it's an actual business model which works and big games (and very good) games are coming out that way.

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                  March 12, 2013 9:42 AM

                  [deleted]

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        March 12, 2013 8:52 AM

        sometimes I am as well, but thought it worked well for tribes

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        March 12, 2013 8:55 AM

        I don't necessarily assume it's bad, but i tend to avoid it. It's just not a business model i'm interested in. I'd rather pay for my game up front than worry about how much money i'm putting into it over the life of a game. i can't see myself ever getting into that genre seriously, unless all games go to that model eventually.

        I'll play little android F2P games, but that's about it so far.

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      March 12, 2013 6:53 AM

      I thought BioWare was making the new C&C?

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        March 12, 2013 6:59 AM

        BioWare Victory is now Victory Games. REBRANDING!

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          March 12, 2013 7:36 AM

          Diluting Brand Power!! HOORAY!

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          March 12, 2013 9:19 PM

          Eh not quite. The studio has been around for several years as Victory Games. For a brief period we were put under the Bioware label as Bioware Victory. Now, however, we are back to Victory Games.

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        March 12, 2013 6:59 AM

        It's a new studio that was given the BioWare name, but EA has backed off that practice recently. The studio's name was changed to Victory Games. I suspect because BioWare isn't such a hot brand anymore.

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        March 12, 2013 9:33 AM

        Oof, what EA has done to the BioWare name...

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          March 12, 2013 9:45 AM

          Something _erryone_ saw coming the moment they sold to EA.

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      March 12, 2013 7:04 AM

      So they cannibalized Generals 2 for this?

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      March 12, 2013 9:44 AM

      How about they just release Generals 2 and not fuck around with a franchise that has been around for almost two decades.

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      March 12, 2013 10:42 AM

      They say they want to avoid pay to win and then say they'll sell "boosters to help you level up and unlock more things faster". Sounds like pay to win to me.

      I tend to avoid any games with a levelling system. I play games to have fun, not to increase my level. Levelling systems tend to exist purely to get people hooked on a game while providing no fun.

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        March 12, 2013 11:46 AM

        This.

        Lvling except in MMOs most of the time only serves to hock people in and create an artificial sense of development of the players skill.

        And what i fear the most about the phrase you quoted is the part about unlocking things faster.
        In a strategy game that can be disastrous if the things that you can unlock are units, skills for units or thinks like that. Just take a look at the lvling and unlock system in C&C4.

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      March 12, 2013 10:58 AM

      It's really sad to see what's happened to C&C in recent years. It used to be one of my favorite franchises of all time. But C&C 4 was so bad it ripped a hole in the space time continuum, and this new thing looks to be just as bad. :(

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        March 12, 2013 2:16 PM

        C&C4 is weird considering how much effort they put into making C&C3 a proper sequel.

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      March 12, 2013 11:56 AM

      I loved C&C Generals but after looking at how EA handled F2P with SWTOR I am very leery of this.

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      March 12, 2013 9:58 PM

      God I remember back when I was 10?... playing JVC's very first game, Might & Magic on my Apple //c

      =/

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      March 12, 2013 10:22 PM

      They can make an online HTML5 version of Red Alert 2 and I'd pay for that.

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