'Command and Conquer' getting single-player after all

When Command and Conquer: Generals 2 made the transition to free-to-play, Electronic Arts decided to ditch the game's single-player to concentrate on cooperative and competitive play, but that's no longer the case, an official tells Polygon.

"Our intention with Command and Conquer is to create a triple-A experience," Frank Gibeau, president of EA Labels told Polygon in a recent interview. "And by that I mean we're using Frostbite tech, we're using very high-end graphics.

"Does that mean it's not going to have single-player? No, that's something we've obviously heard loud and clear that is important to people. The beauty of free-to-play, is that we can adjust and adapt to what we're hearing as opposed to, 'I'm sorry, it's two months from ship and it is what it is.' It's a very different model because you don't have to build as much. You build in response to your audience."

Gibeau said that the decision to make the game free-to-play, and in the process rename it simply Command and Conquer, was driven by the desire to attract the largest possible audience.

"We started with, 'How do we build a triple-A Command and Conquer experience?'" he said. "Is the best way to go to market, premium or is the best way to go to market, free-to-play? We're like, 'We'll get the biggest market with free-to-play and we can evolve it over time based on what we see happening inside the service."

Command and Conquer will still be based in the fiction of 2003's Command and Conquer: Generals, he said. That game portrayed a near-future war between the United States, China, and a terrorist group known as the Global Liberation Army. It featured more conventional units than previous Command and Conquer games and the ability to use terrorist strategies, like a suicide bomber.

Gibeau said the plan is to eventually mix in units from both the Red Alert and Tiberium series.

"You're going to be able to have some stuff fans have been asking for, for years," he said. "You see the arguments, this tank in Red Alert is better than this tank over here.

"Our goal is to evolve the service in response to what people want and that's the beauty of free-to-play: You build as you receive information from your audience. When you build a premium game you have to go way in the hole, in terms of spending out a lot of money building a certain experience and then putting it out there to see how people respond."

While Gibeau said he understands why transforming Command and Conquer: Generals 2, a traditional retail game, into Command and Conquer, a free-to-play game, can be a two-edged sword, he thinks Electronic Arts can help dispel the misconception some people have about free-to-play titles with this release.

"I get why there is a two-edged sword for free-to-play in terms of why the audience thinks it's schlock," he said. "That's what we're trying to change with Command and Conquer and why we're trying to see other companies hopefully do the same thing."

Electronic Arts is even open to bringing the game to consoles at some point in the future.

"If at some point in the future it makes sense to come over to Xbox Live because the platform allows us to enable it there, or PSN we'll definitely do it," he said.

Command and Conquer, which is in development by BioWare Victory, is expected out in 2013.

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