Command & Conquer (C&C) is a real-time strategy (RTS) video game franchise, first developed by Westwood Studios. The first game was one of the earliest of the RTS genre, itself based on Westwood Studios’ influential strategy game Dune II and introducing trademarks followed in the rest of the series. This includes full-motion video cutscenes with an ensemble cast to progress the story, as opposed to digitally in-game rendered cutscenes. Westwood Studios was taken over by Electronic Arts in 1998 and closed down in 2003. The studio and some of its members were absorbed into EA Los Angeles, which continued development on the series.
After Westwood Studios developed the critically acclaimed Dune II, Computer Gaming World reported in 1993 that the company would not use the Dune license for Westwood’s next strategy game “mostly because the programmers are tired of sand”. The magazine stated that it would have “new terrain and enemies”, and that “the design team is serious about doing a multi-player version”.
Command & Conquer was released worldwide by Westwood in 1995. The plot is set sometime in the near future where the Earth becomes contaminated by a mysterious substance known as Tiberium. A global war ensues between the UN-formed Global Defense Initiative to contain it and the cult quasi-state revolutionary Brotherhood of Nod, led by the enigmatic Kane, which seeks to harness it. Highly successful, it was followed by Command & Conquer: Red Alert in 1996 which is set in an alternate universe where the Soviet Union wages war with the Allies. Developed as the prequel to the original, the Red Alert series was spun off into a separate, lighthearted and comic series, while the original game and its sequels became known as the “Tiberium” series, retaining its science fiction and serious tone. The first game is sometimes referred to as Tiberian Dawn as a result.
The original game was followed by Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun in 1999 and its expansion pack Firestorm. In 2002, Westwood Studios released Command & Conquer: Renegade, a first-person shooter. Renegade was praised for its online features. A spin-off game in 2003, Command & Conquer: Generals, set in a more realistic near-future and featuring the United States, China and the Global Liberation Army was followed by an expansion pack, Zero Hour. Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars was released in 2007 and followed by the expansion pack Kane’s Wrath. Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, released in 2010 as the conclusion to the Tiberium saga, received mixed reviews because of its deviation from traditional gameplay and story. The Red Alert series was continued by the 2000 title Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, its expansion, Yuri’s Revenge and Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 in 2008, which introduced a third faction, the Empire of the Rising Sun, which resembles Japan with futuristic robotic technology.
The series is primarily developed for personal computers running Microsoft Windows, although some titles have been ported to various video game consoles and Apple Mac. Other games for platforms such as iOS and web-based have also been developed. As of July 2010, the Command & Conquer franchise consists of eleven games and eight expansion packs. The first three games of the series have been released as freeware to promote the successors. A free-to-play game, entitled Command & Conquer, was in development with the studio Victory Games. It was set to be the next game in the series and was expected to be released in 2013. However, after a short alpha period the game was cancelled, and Victory Games disbanded by EA. The Command & Conquer series has been a commercial success with over 30 million Command & Conquer games sold as of 2009.