I haven’t been sleeping well lately, for various reasons. I now know why: it was my body getting me ready to mine some salt for this story that got sent to me overnight, because I have never seen such pure amounts of salt to be mined. EA’s chief design officer, in an interview with Patrick Söderlund with GamesIndustry.biz makes a defense of Command and Conquer Rivals and of mobile gaming. The game received a negative reaction from the “real gamers" after it was announced during EA’s E3 press conference, and there wasn’t a new PC Command and Conquer game also in tow. Söderlund says “We’re going to come to a point where we need to respect mobile games as much as console games. I know that’s difficult to see when you come to E3, but our mobile business is growing quite significantly, and we look at those teams with the same value and the same integrity as we look at our console teams. And we believe this is the best interpretation we can do of the brand right now."
Oh yes, let the hate flow through you, gamers. Or, flow even further, after the 2.1k:49k like:dislike ratio on that trailer. Woof. On one hand, everything EA does is a ploy to make money in some way because they’re a billion-dollar corporation. A new “real" Command and Conquer game would serve the same purpose as this mobile version serves: to use the license to make a bunch of money. And really, people harp on mobile games so much that it’s getting old at this point. Yes, you think paying money after the fact is such a scam, like paying up front for a game that’s difficult to return is such a great and fair business model.
As Söderlund says, there are massive countries where mobile is gaming and this is a real Command and Conquer game because this is the only one they will play. Also maybe there’s a reason Command and Conquer isn’t exactly active right now, and perhaps the brand needs a jolt from a mobile game to get going again. So, if you want a C&C game, get to downloading Rivals as soon as you can. As Söderlund says: “when you have a catalog of properties like we do, sometimes it makes sense to resurrect them, and sometimes it doesn’t. In this particular instance, with the game design the team had? The Command & Conquer brand just fit."
If you’re not happy with where the Command and Conquer franchise is going, take some advice from Tim Curry:
However, EA, don’t think I’m going to let you get away with my favorite “mobile games are real games" argument and walk away. You don’t exactly get the benefit of the doubt here with reviving a brand on mobile. People have a right to be scarred after Dungeon Keeper. If anyone is responsible for the mobile gaming stigma, it’s you.
There’s something almost cynical to EA arguing that people should treat their mobile games seriously. If the people will get mad about EA reviving games on mobile, and about their loot box practices, perhaps the next best thing is to try and convince people that no, seriously, this is a real game without providing the real gamers something to calm their collective tits. If EA had released the classic PC Dungeon Keeper adapted for touch on mobile simultaneously with the new version, nobody would have cared, or at least would have not had an interesting argument to make, because here’s the thing you want.
Here’s some free advice, EA: go call up Aspyr or some other port house of repute, and throw a bunch of money at them to port Command and Conquer: Red Alert to iOS so nobody has to get mad. Or hire an indie developer, find some Command and Conquer producer, and get them to produce a C&C revival. In that same interview, Söderlund talks about the value of the EA Originals, and how “we want to get these games into the hands of players because they have a deeper meaning than just being a mass market play." Consider whatever you do to keep the gamers and Command and Conquer fans happy a marketing expense that maybe makes a bunch of money for you if it all pans out, and if not, well, you kept people from spreading a bunch of negativity about the game that’s supposed to actually make you a bunch of money.