Defeat: EA Cancels Command & Conquer, Closes Victory

By Nathan Grayson on October 29th, 2013 at 8:15 pm.

Well now, here’s a surprise. I knew some players weren’t altogether on board with EA’s latest Command & Conquer pseudo-reboot, but I had heard decent-ish things by and large. Apparently, however, the nay-screamers outnumbered the yea-sayers, because EA’s elected to reduce the whole project to a shower of raining, Frostbite-3-friendly rubble. But that’s just the beginning, er, of the end. In addition, EA is completely disbanding and shutting down longtime RTS studio EA Victory. A sad day indeed.

Here’s the rationale driving the whole situation, straight from EA’s blaring brass dirge trumpets:

“Part of being in a creative team is the understanding that not all of your choices are going to work out. In this case, we shifted the game away from campaign mode and built an economy-based, multiplayer experience. Your feedback from the alpha trial is clear: We are not making the game you want to play. That is why, after much difficult deliberation, we have decided to cease production of this version of the game. Although we deeply respect the great work done by our talented team, ultimately it’s about getting you the game you expect and deserve.”

“Over the next 10 days we will be refunding any and all money spent in the alpha. If you have a question about your refund, please contact help.ea.com.”

That’s not terrible reasoning, I suppose. At least this seems to suggest that EA’s listening. But laying off an entire studio (something which EA confirmed to Polygon)? That’s a real shame.

Despite how things may seem, however, EA isn’t abandoning the Command & Conquer franchise. At this point, it’s hoping to create the game it believes players want “as soon as possible.” The publisher’s not-at-all-victorious post concluded: “We have already begun looking at a number of alternatives to get the game back on track. We look forward to sharing more news about the franchise as it develops.”

So that’s where things are at. There’s no telling what lies ahead at this point, but probably don’t expect to be commanding and conquering your way across new ground in the near future.

I’m digging for more info on what exactly prompted the studio closure and if there’s more going on behind-the-scenes here than EA’s letting on. If you are/were close to the situation and would like to get in touch, click on my name and beam your thoughts into my mind and/or email inbox. To everyone else, RPS wishes you the best of luck.

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87 Comments »

  1. Bull0 says:

    So, this is a huge bummer.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I think the huge bummer hit years ago, when Westwood were destroyed.

      • Bull0 says:

        That wasn’t a huge bummer, that was a monumental, earth-shattering catastrophe :(

        • rockman29 says:

          Westwood will forever be missed *salute*

          Will never forget all the fun I had with Red Alert, Tiberian Sun, Renegade, and more…

          Great memories, never forgotten :)

          • Bull0 says:

            C&C Red Alert skirmishes basically defined my relationship with my late Dad. Westwood are always going to occupy a special place in my bitter, twisted heart :)

          • KwisatzHaderach says:

            They should just permit the guys from Totem Arts to officially puplish their standalne mod Renegade X! Check it out, it looks fantastic, has been in the works since 2007 and is due to release this year. I wish there was a way I could throw some money at these guys… But the license forbids it!

          • Flopper says:

            And the amazing Blade Runner game they made. Shit I loved that game…

            Westwood was rockin voxels back in the 90′s.

      • Cytrom says:

        Tbh, anyone who sells their soul to EA, deserves their inevitable doom.

        • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

          To be fair to Westwood, it was one of the first to go, so back in those days, unlike today, nobody really knew that selling your company to EA was such an obviously terrible thing to do. Anyone who sells their company to EA in this day and age, however, totally deserves every horrible thing that happens to them, because they definitely should have seen it coming. I’m looking at you, BioWare. Of course, that doesn’t mean we as consumers have to be happy about it or anything.

        • The First Door says:

          That’s bollocks, frankly. No one really deserves to lose their studio or their job for ‘selling their soul’ to EA.

          • Loyal_Viggo says:

            Uh-oh, looks like somebody wants a refund.

            What’s the going rate on souls these days?

  2. Cross says:

    Well, this sucks, but i guess caution from Ea’s part after the legendary failure that was C&C4. It’ll take some real care to reconcile that particular pile of tripe.

    • bills6693 says:

      Indeed, and also from SimCity. That was also “not making the game you want to play”. I guess people were really, really unhappy about that – maybe enough for them to take it on board – and so they’ve decided they don’t want the same thing to happen to Command & Conquer (no subtitle/number needed, of course).

      I think that the change in direction (if thats what has happened – not just a closure of the project full stop, which is also possible) is a good thing on the whole, although the closure of a studio is, as ever, not. One can only hope that the members of that studio will rise from the ashes and perhaps even create their own new studio and make awesome, interesting strategy games. Best of luck to them all.

    • Sharlie Shaplin says:

      Also the Syndicate FPS too. I am sure the commercial failure of that game had some input.

  3. Jenks says:

    Fantastic, maybe they learned something from Ultima Forever.

  4. MrNash says:

    This was unexpected. Now throw me another curve ball, EA, and make the next C&C game a sequel to Renegade.

    • Warduke says:

      Yah, that would be awesome… Renegade mp was a lot of fun

    • Cross says:

      Well, Tiberium was cancelled too.

    • nopol10 says:

      Who needs that when you’ve got the original Renegade running fine and Renegade-X in development?

  5. Monkeh says:

    When reading the title I was like ‘what the hell?’, but after having read the rest (mostly the dev’s quote, seeing as it’s a message from their studio) it doesn’t really seem that bad. I’d much rather have an enjoyable C&C in a few years time than an unenjoyable C&C in a few months.

    • lowprices says:

      Well, it’s fairly bad for the people who lost their jobs.

      • Felix_Bisto says:

        I imagine they will go onto better things (God knows, there may even be a kick starter for some indie tripe CandC thing!)

        • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

          Just about anything they go on to would have to be better than working for EA.

          • Werthead says:

            Probably not social security, though.

            In this day and age, and given the massive contraction in the video game industry, I would not be so blase about these people losing their jobs.

            Also, EA’s reasoning seems weird: if the FTP C&C wasn’t what people wanted, why not retain the assets (which looked good), the team (which looked competent) and just make it into a SP game? The rumour was that the game was going to get a paid-for SP campaign a few months after release anyway.

          • bills6693 says:

            What Werthead said.

            Its probably preferable working in a salaried job at a big studio, where you will probably be treated ok and have a steady wage, than working for an indie who isn’t paid till the game is selling (or kickstarted). Furthurmore, if the people who’ve just been laid off WANT to become indie devs, they would have probably left their jobs and set one up by now.

            Yes we can hope a competent, interesting indie studio or something similar rises from the ashes. But that is more out of necessity from those people than because its what they wanted to do all along and is better for them, probably. Or maybe they will get absorbed up into existing studios – perhaps what they would prefer, back into normal salaried work – but as said, with the upheaval and contraction of the games industry as big players realise things are getting a bit TOO big budget, thats less and less likely. AAA Indies are probably the best place to be going right now…

          • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

            The fact that EA was willing to get rid of them for what is, as you’ve said yourself, essentially no good reason should be proof enough that EA is a cruddy place to work and they (i.e. anyone with sense) would be better off working anywhere else. If this had been just a single isolated incident in a vacuum it would be one thing, but EA has a decades long, infamous history of making terrible decisions and trashing once great developers and, later, the IPs that used to belong to those developers. If you’re going to choose to work for EA, you have to be ready to deal with the inevitable, and sometimes inexplicable, consequences.

            Besides that, it’s also why the Command & Conquer franchise was in such dire straits in the first place. I seriously doubt any dev with even a modicum of sense as to what most people want out of a RTS game would have willingly made this travesty of a C&C game without some clueless management goon breathing down their neck, perhaps gesturing vaguely at shareholder reports or some such thing. And now that the whole thing has gone predictably pear-shaped, guess who has been put on the chopping block. Here’s a hint: it wasn’t the management goons. Spoiler: it was the devs.

            So, in conclusion, I will restate my original point. Just about anything they go on to would have to be better than working for EA.

          • Slazer says:

            Just remember the guys who made the last C&C. EA announced that they will close the studio and fire everybody even before the game release

    • Bull0 says:

      I’d rather have both. The fact that they focus-grouped this one into extinction doesn’t mean that nobody anywhere would’ve enjoyed it. I was liking what I was hearing, to be honest.

      • Monkeh says:

        Getting both is probably not a realistic option though. Still, Victory Studios getting shut down is of course pretty sad, but coming from their site it doesn’t seem to upset them that much, but that could just be EA forcing them to not make crude statements. For some reason RPS cut that part of the quote and are acting as though EA is making the statement, whereas it’s Victory Studios.. or at least that’s what I’m led to believe when it’s signed with their studios name.

        “We believe that Command & Conquer is a powerful franchise with huge potential and a great history, and we are determined to get the best game made as soon as possible. To that end, we have already begun looking at a number of alternatives to get the game back on track. We look forward to sharing more news about the franchise as it develops. Thank you again for your participation and support.

        - Victory Studios”

    • FriendlyFire says:

      My problem is: with Victory shut down, who could possibly work on a new C&C game? Victory is the only studio that I know of under EA’s control which knows anything about RTS games.

  6. Lenderz says:

    “shutting down longtime RTS studio EA Victory. A sad day indeed.”

    Huh? I didn’t realise anything got released by EA Victory, I heard tell it had ex-westwood people, but saw no evidence of that. What am I missing?

    • FriendlyFire says:

      EA Victory is basically EALA, who made all the C&C games post-Westwood.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        It was a small fraction of the EALA team. Most of them were laid off shortly after Red Alert 3′s release due to the cancellation of Tiberium.

        • Gap Gen says:

          I suppose it’s entirely possible that given EA’s propensity for laying off swathes of people when things go badly, that the remaining studio didn’t really have much of a soul left. Not that it wouldn’t have had some hardworking, talented people, but you can only take so many casualties before your unit becomes unfit for combat.

    • Discopanda says:

      Am I the only person who recalls that they were Bioware: Victory for awhile? The EA execs must have been snorting some seriously powerful coke during that period.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        Yes, for a while EA was renaming a bunch of their studios to Bioware divisions, like Bioware Austin who made Tales of the Old Republic.

        The tanking of TOR and the reception of ME3′s ending made EA get rid of that idea quite quickly.

        • Safilpope says:

          This. EA’s strategy of buying up studios and gradually firing everyone who were a part of them is slowly catching up to them. As much as I’m sorry for the people who have lost their job (I wish them luck in finding another), I cant say I’ll shed a tear for the closure of an EA studio

          • SpectralThundr says:

            EA Victory never was an independent studio in the first place. They were always an EA owned studio from day one. If people want to bitch about EA being the anti christ or whatever is the “in thing this week” is, at least find a legitimate reason.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          BioWare Austin existed before BioWare was bought by EA from Elevation Partners/VG Holdings. BioWare AUstin was NEVER a renamed EA studio. People seem to forget this, but SW:TOR was well into development before BioWare was bought by EA.

  7. Kefren says:

    In these cases why don’t they strip out microtransactions and release it as a standalone budget game? Recoup some money in a long tail rather than just throwing it away completely.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      I don’t think they’ll just be throwing the code in the bin. Something will come of it, eventually.

    • Iron Ladyboy says:

      They will probably reuse some assets and technology but as per usual, AAA-publishers has a binary mindset; if they can’t make all the money they would rather make no money.

  8. Artfunkel says:

    Friends don’t let friends work on F2P games.

  9. Naed says:

    Hmm, listening to the co-optional podcast right now, Jesse Cox just brought up that EA for the launch of BF4 had a bunch of jets flying over their headquarters.

    Makes you wonder about priority :/

  10. robinge says:

    my classmate’s step-aunt makes $68 an hour on the laptop. She has been fired for 5 months but last month her income was $21037 just working on the laptop for a few hours………:> >>>> http://WWW.JOBS60.COM

    • bruibrui1 says:

      I’m sure the fired EA Victory employees are exited to hear about this amazing opportunity.

  11. psulli says:

    I hope that RPS has some sort of skel-file for making these “EA Closes Studio” posts.

  12. engion3 says:

    Kirov reporting

  13. dahools says:

    Grim news about C&C they need to go back to the drawing board and look at the old games and just design a new red alert with all the principles that made the first 2 great games. Have some tough campaigns, challenging multiplayer maps, nice modern gfx but with out losing some of the softer cartoony art style that made the earlier games memorable.

    PS. . . Mr grayson. . . having been star star citizens favourite jounalistic post this week. No pressure for your next article on their next stretch goal article then. . ;-)

  14. DantronLesotho says:

    This is sad, although I don’t think it’s unexpected. I want an HD re-issue RA2!

    • Warduke says:

      Yes!!!

    • darmwand says:

      You may want to try OpenRA, http://openra.res0l.net/

      • Gap Gen says:

        I may indeed want to. Thanks for that. I tried the version that EA released for free online of RA1 and it’s difficult to use – the scroll speed is way too high, even when I try to hack it down. Plus I forgot quite how dumb the unit AI was in not responding to enemy fire if they were already attacking or moving.

  15. XhomeB says:

    To be honest, I’m not that surprised. Everyone was SUPER excited when Generals 2 got announced, and then they canceled it for no reason whatsoever and decided to focus on a free-to-play experience instead.

    This “second cancellation in a row”, going back to the drawing board could have actually been great news, but with the entire studio being laid off, this game is pretty much buried at this point…

  16. c-Row says:

    Your feedback from the alpha trial is clear: We are not making the game you want to play.

    None of us actually needed an alpha to come to that conclusion.

  17. hotmaildidntwork says:

    Victory was a long time RTS studio? I thought they were basically created to manufacture this C&C game. . .

    Edit: confusion I could have addressed by reading some of the dozen posts that appeared while I was typing, apparently.

  18. daphne says:

    Nathan and the rest of RPS folks, have a look at this forum post here. It has an e-mail address you might be able to ping for more information on what was going on.

    http://www.commandandconquer.com/forums/index.php/topic/32377-kudos-to-vc-for-cancellation-doomed-from-the-start/

  19. Strangineer says:

    Was really looking forward to C&C Generals 2, and then that turned into F2PC&C, I was disappointed, but I figured it’d still be fun. Hope someone gets use of some of the code and assets. Best of luck to all developers at Victory.

  20. AngusPrune says:

    I think it’s seeing what has happened to Ultima and Dungeon Keeper that forces me to read “economy-based, multiplayer experience” as “cynical microtransaction-based cash grab based on a beloved IP.”

    I can only assume we’ve been spared a horrible experience.

  21. DatonKallandor says:

    EA announces CnC Generals everyone is reluctantly happy.

    EA announces they’re raping it turning it into a F2P pseudo MMO – everyone is predictably pissed off.

    EA acts surprised and cancels the whole thing after throwing away months of money on it, instead of just going back to the original well-liked concept. Nobody is surprised.

  22. CrazyPaladin says:

    So this ‘longtime’ studio only managed to make ONE product, the 17th Anniversary verison of C&C, which they just put all previous titles together and they still somehow f*cked it up. A sad day indeed. They didn’t even have a chance to redeem itself

  23. Stardreamer says:

    EA has not done terribly well lately, have they? Must be hard pushing cynical cash-grab products into a market that has Indie games and Kickstarter giving gamers precisely what they’ve wanted ever since the rise of corporate AAA gaming.

    i take this cancellation as a good omen, that maybe the big boys are starting to pay more attention to the opinions of the little people, we the gamers, instead of treating us like mobile wallets.

    • neurosisxeno says:

      Hopefully all the terrible decision makers on their board of directors will cash out and leave the company because they are doing an absolutely atrocious job. All eyes are on Activision to see if they double down after the buyout and we get 4 CoD games a year and 3 Skylanders expansions, or they start making innovative and interesting games once again now that the board members from Vivendi are gone.

  24. JohnLRobinson says:

    my co-worker’s step-aunt makes $62 an hour on the internet. She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her paycheck was $19404 just working on the internet for a few hours. browse around this site ​ jobs72.com

  25. BobbyDylan says:

    I find it hard to lament the death of anything F2P. EA should have, instead of closing down the studio, turned the game into a SP game. At least they’d have gotten some return on the investment of the staff.

    • LintMan says:

      Yep, I have no sadness for the death of any F2P game – especially not one where the F2P replaces the regular mechanics of a beloved franchise. It is unfortunate for the developers, though, and a shame that EA didn’t redirect their efforts to an SP campaign.

  26. rustybroomhandle says:

    Probably in bad taste to make a ‘Can I have some shoes?’ joke right about now, huh?

  27. Slazer says:

    I hear EA talking about F2P all the time, but have they established a single successful F2P game yet (not counting mobile and facebook)? F2P Battlefield is a joke, Warhammer is closing and you don’t hear much about TOR anymore, no other games come to my mind. I just don’t see proof for their theory outside of some non-EA games

    • Stardreamer says:

      Yeah, it feels very much like some games “Guru” has powerpointed them some magic words and profit graphs with ascending red lines, instead of something they’ve learned from actual real-life experience: “F2P: Free 2 Profit!”

      A presentation I imagine went something like the Jabberwocky Presentation in Better Off Ted.:

  28. FullMetalMonkey says:

    I’m actually saddened that the game isn’t coming out. I’ve been playing the alpha since it was first available. Whilst it wasn’t perfect it had a lot of promise for an alpha build.

    Rest in peace Command and Conquer.

    • Warduke says:

      As others have mentioned I wonder if this isn’t more about a failed plan to monetize rather than the actual gameplay. Most alpha testers seemed to think it showed a lot of promise. Here’s hoping it will live again in another form…

  29. SkittleDiddler says:

    If C&C has been cancelled and Victory disbanded, then why did I just receive an email today from EA that links directly to this: https://www.youtube.com/user/commandandconquer/?om_u=2299860216&om_i=_BScauTB8188G6B

    That link in turn leads to a still-active beta page: http://bit.ly/16QXfVw

    Either someone had their thumbs up their asses during the recall (likely), or the game is still on target for development (hopefully not).