EA, please reboot Renegade.
Electronic Arts have built up a little reputation as being IP whores, assimilating other developers and milking their properties until only their hollow dry crusts remain. But in recent times, there has been a noticeable push to create new franchises, rather than rely on a back catalogue of games quickly fading into irrelatively. I’ll argue that EA are still creating new franchises rather than new games; but they like money, and I can’t fault them for that. The truth is that EA have changed, and have gained a new dose of respect from the gaming community.
So Electronic Arts, you can see that I do appreciate your new business model – which makes it difficult to ask – can you please reboot Renegade?
Now, this isn’t one of the thousands (millions?) of online petitions or forum threads about how some fanboy wants their favourite game in HD. It’s true that I enjoyed Renegade, but this is not the reason for my humble request; the bottom line is the game is more relevant today than it was in 2002, and in our current gaming climate, could stand out and make a tidy sum.
Command & Conquer: Renegade is the First Person departure of the Command and Conquer series. The C&C series has spanned 13 years, and is an icon of the real time strategy genre. The years of lore and creative narrative have woven a solid universe, with coherent stories that span from the mid 1990’s to a half century in the future.
Renegade’s greatest asset was Command & Conquer mode, a unique multiplayer gametype which introduced RTS elements to create something out of the ordinary. Each team are allocated a base comprising of five buildings; each performing a major function. The goal, to destroy the enemy’s base, can be achieved in two ways – either raze each building, or place a super weapon beacon on the designated beacon pedestal (and protect it until it’s timer runs down). It’s a tactical game – team tactics are required to effectively infiltrate the enemy base and tactical decisions must be made in regard to what buildings to strike, or what character or vehicle the in game currency should be spent purchasing.
I mentioned the game is more relevant today than when it was initially released. It’s true, and a remake of the game could be released and would probably sell well on the C&C name alone – but with some legitimate changes and the correct mentality, a Renegade reboot really has the opportunity and take advantage of the current gaming landscape and mesh with proven and emerging gaming trends.
The following is part one of a proposal outlining how Renegade can be adapted to guarantee success.
The goal, to take an existing property and create a well received game, minimising risk while ensuring a profitable outcome.
For Renegade to be successful and profitable as a game, it must be positioned appropriately within the market.
Renegade can achieve good market placement by adhering to the following guidelines.
- Digitally distribute.
- Develop for home consoles.
- Release at a low price point.
- Focus on unique multiplayer.
By adopting a digital distribution structure and developing for home consoles, publishing overheads and risks are minimised. Digital distribution is more than a proven distribution path; it’s a proven market. Utilising the existing distribution framework (PSN, XBLA), places Renegade into a young market with very little competition. By focusing on multiplayer, consumers will have a clear understanding of the game; and when coupled with the low price point, are likely to commit to a purchase.
Despite the low entry point and lack of competition within the consoles’ online stores, some key considerations must be made.
- Production levels must be exceptional.
- The product must be continually supported.
I can not stress the importance of high production levels – in a market with no regulated price, consumers will inevitably compare Renegade to games at lower and higher price points; using overall polish and production values as the universal tool for comparison.
Because of Renegade’s focus on multiplayer (read: reliance on its multiplayer community), it is critical that the game continually evolves and retains the ability to draw players. A combination of releasing free gameplay enhancements and paid extras is an effective strategy for maintaining a player base and creating a reliable profit flow.
I’ve mentioned it twice earlier; Renegade is more relevant today than when it was released.
What does this actually mean? Well it doesn’t mean Renegade was years ahead of it’s time and is now the ideal game; but some of it’s core components were – and with some understanding of modern gaming trends, these components create a strong foundation to deliver the game that gamers ask for, and will be asking for in the future.
Of course, gamers is certainly not a descriptive target audience; I might as well say our target audience is the human race, but because of our untraditional market position, we can at least make a few assumptions about our audience.
Our target audience;
- has access to broadband internet,
- is happy to purchase digital content, and
- utilize the online features of their console.
This information is obvious, and may not seem that informative or helpful; but lets apply some industry knowledge and see if we can grasp something meaningful.
Our target audience has access to broadband internet, is happy to purchase digital content and utilize the online features of their console.
The imagery of hardcore ex-PC players comes to mind. Competitive online multiplayer has been a large part of PC gaming for a decade and a half, many of these ex-PC gamers are migrating to consoles and bringing their favourite past time with. The success of Call of Duty 4 (a game which arguable won GOTY based on it’s online merits) is clear proof of this. But the blurring between PC and console gaming masks the fact that this console generation marks the first time online functionality has been built into consoles as a priority.
We’re experiencing a historic milestone, and as the console market continues to grow people are being exposed to online gaming for the first time.
Renegade, the first online game ever experienced by a generation of gamers, young and old alike.
It would be – for lack of a better word – stupid not to accommodate and attract the maturing casual market and first time online players. It would also be very stupid to not accommodate and attract the (until now, bread and butter) hardcore multiplayers.
Create an online experience for casual and hardcore alike – that’s preposterous!
Actually it is possible, and Renegade is in a position to achieve this goal.
Casual (or hardcore) gamers don’t play casual (or hardcore) titles because they are labelled as such – they play them because they find the features and gameplay present appealing. And by outlining our audience prior to outlining our core game mechanics, we can create an experience that is tailored to match. By avoiding a few pitfalls and mixing up the formula, it’s very possible to create a multiplayer game attractive to a large, diverse audience.
[Part two of this proposal will deal with Renegade as a game, predominately concerned with proposed features, gameplay mechanics and aesthetics; the direction these will push the game, and the effect they will have on widespread appeal and playability.]