Command & Conquer: Rivals is everything we don’t want to see from the Starcraft franchise

starcraft 3 - Command & Conquer: Rivals is everything we don't want to see from the Starcraft franchise

It's looking like EA's Command & Conquer: Rivals is an eerie example of exactly what a lot of Blizzard fans are afraid a Starcraft mobile game would look like. Full of loot boxes, pay-to-win mechanics, and constant reminders popping up to point out how much wait time you could skip by throwing some money down. By leveling up units in-between games through heavy grinding or(more likely) payments, players don't start a match evenly and the idea of this game spawning a professional scene is borderline ridiculous.

It's hard to remember now, but the Command & Conquer franchise used to be the big rival to Blizzard's Warcraft and Starcraft games. Warcraft II had a secret song called "I'm a Medieval Man"(a parody of C&C's Mechanical Man) and Starcraft character Kerrigan was named as a weird play on C&C character Tanya(Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding's rival Nancy Kerrigan was hit in the knee by someone connected to her and it was a big deal at the time and Chris Metzen was quick to admit that it was a stupid attempt at a joke/news reference).

Blizzard seems to be pretty aware of the backlash over pay-to-win in gaming. When Starcraft II became free-to-play last year they took some pretty amusing digs at EA's Star Wars: Battlefront II with some twitter posts and even a couple videos where a father was explaining to his son that he didn't raise him so he could pay to get good. Clearly, EA hasn't learned much from their Battlefront II fiasco. It's up to Blizzard and other developers to learn from their mistakes.

So far, Blizzard has done a pretty good job experimenting with controversial mechanics such as loot boxes without coming close to crossing the line. Overwatch only provides cosmetics. Heroes of the Storm has heroes along with the cosmetics, but not all new heroes are necessarily more powerful or easy to use and they're easy enough to unlock with gold. Spending money and time can certainly provide an advantage in Hearthstone, but that's considered part of a collecting game while no cards can be leveled up in any way and you have to replace other good cards in your deck if you want to add new ones. Of particular note is the fact that Blizzard's games don't manipulate players by subtly diminishing the returns you get if you choose grinding over paying.

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Beyond Heathstone, we don't know what a Blizzard mobile game will look like. The mobile gaming industry has grown to the point where even companies like Nintendo, with its preference towards developing strictly for its own hardware, has dived in. But the mobile platform is often given a bad name by blatant pay-to-win mechanics and pay barriers that force you to choose between paying to move ahead immediately or having to stop and wait for a good 8 hours. Some developers have tried alternatives to releasing "free-to-play" games that force players to constantly put down money but even charging $10 for a mobile game seems to get it dismissed by consumers.

I've stated before that I feel the Diablo: Immortal mess comes down less to the game itself and more to the way it was announced along with a feeling of neglect towards the whole Diablo franchise. I believe that fans probably wouldn't have paid much mind to an announcement for a mobile spinoff of a franchise that Blizzard has been clearly showing support for like Overwatch or World of Warcraft. But there is clearly a stigma regarding mobile games that developers have working against them. It will likely be a long time before we might see hints of a Starcraft mobile game and the spinoff could even be in completely different genre. Whatever it looks like, the important thing is that it has absolutely no resemblance to Command & Conquer: Rivals.

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