I can’t be the only one who thinks Red Alert 2 Remastered will print money.
In search of Red Alert 2 Remastered
I never really got into Command & Conquer before Red Alert 2. Forgive me: I was four years old when the first game came out and we didn’t have a family computer until after I’d been put off the series by the clunky PlayStation port I tried at an after-school club.
Instead, I cut my real-time strategy teeth ordering shirtless villagers to gather berries and till the soil against the backdrop of almost whimsical midi in the first two Age of Empires games.
Not exactly the strategic mastermind at the time, I played them on the easiest possible difficulty – as casually as a casual strategy game can get.
It was something different altogether when I eventually sat down to play Red Alert 2 and established battlefield control in Lone Guardian – the opening Allied mission.
With the Statue of Liberty rather comically ringed by GIs doing absolutely nothing in deployed mode despite the imminent arrival of several Dreadnaught cruise missiles, this was pure chaos from the get-go.
I was still in dire need of some tips on how to get better at strategy games but the fast-paced gameplay, B-movie cutscene acting, iconic art design, and crunching guitar soundtrack all helped make Red Alert 2 unique, endearing, and, ultimately, engrossing.
It quickly became apparent that this new game was, by some distance, the coolest thing to have happened in my life up to that point. I loved Age of Empires (and still do), but you have to admit that a Chrono Miner is infinitely more impressive than a couple of rumpled villagers and Tanya was, well… Tanya.
Microsoft and Xbox Game Studios continue to pump out new Age of Empires releases and repackage the old games in HD and ‘Definitive’ edition formats. This satiates the demand from kids like me who grew up playing the series’ early entries and who now want to play them on modern hardware.
That franchise managed to squeeze every drop out of real-time strategy’s heyday while, in the meantime, Command & Conquer sort of stumbled about like a lost sheep searching for a safe home.
Perhaps intimidated by the success of Blizzard’s Starcraft, EA (who acquired original Command & Conquer producers, Westwood Studios, in 1998) pivoted the franchise in a new direction with the 2003 release of the first-person shooter, Command & Conquer Renegade.
When I first heard about Renegade, I was so excited to play an RTS/FPS hybrid in the Command & Conquer universe. But my misunderstanding led to disappointment as Renegade was nothing more than a good-but-not-great FPS game.
EA’s decision to switch it up rather than double down on what made Command & Conquer great definitely halted Westwood Studios’ momentum and, ultimately, most of the Westwood team left to form Petroglyph Studios.
The franchise timeline since then is pockmarked by unsubstantiated rumors, cancellations, and studio closures. Not counting expansions and bundles, we’ve had five more Command & Conquer games, including the now-dead MMO Tiberium Alliances and the reasonably well-received mobile game, Command & Conquer Rivals.
However, none of these come anywhere close to Red Alert 2. The game’s 21st anniversary recently passed and there would seem to be no better time than the present to sit down at the bar with this old friend.
Making a case
The first clue that suggests a Red Alert 2 remake would print money for EA is the success of the franchise’s first makeover, Command & Conquer Remastered Collection, developed by Petroglyph and Lemon Sky Studios.
Mod support, customizable playlists (if, for some reason, you don’t want to listen to the original soundtrack freshly re-recorded by Frank Klepacki), and online multiplayer are but a few of the features that earned the Remastered Collection favorable reviews.
It has been a commercial success, too, with over 23,000 purchases on Steam since its summer 2020 release which, according to this calculator, will have earned a net revenue just shy of $7 million.
We might also encourage EA to get stuck into the academic literature on nostalgia and purchasing intent because, if they did, they’d surely have the blank checks in the mail to Petroglyph.
Research on the subject has long suggested that nostalgia is positively associated with boosted purchase intentions in certain situations, including, bleakly enough, during aversive or threatening situations like social unrest (which we seem to have plenty of these days).
Will we get Red Alert 2 Remastered?
So, is it likely to happen? Or will EA borrow President Dugan’s words to Premier Romanov in Red Alert 2’s opening cinematic and declare that they “don’t give a wooden nickel” about the franchise?
If Jim Vessella, lead producer at EA and the man in charge of the Remastered Collection project, has any sway then Red Alert 2 Remastered might be more than just a pipe dream. In a 2020 interview with Eurogamer, Vessella said that the Remastered Collection has put the franchise in “the best momentum position [it] could be”, adding that he “would love to be able to do more with C&C.”
EA gave more ammo to speculators when it revealed in its Q4 FY 2022 Results document that it is working on a ‘major IP’. Hopeful fans were quick to point out that this ‘major IP’ was not specifically labeled as ‘new’, meaning it is at least possible that this major IP is Command & Conquer.
Petroglyph is currently tied up with The Great War: Western Front but it too has teased the franchise’s return, reposting a Facebook post that encouraged users to react with a ‘like’ if they wanted to see a Red Alert 2 remaster or with a ‘love’ if they would prefer a ground-up remake.
The developer also stated in comments below that post that they are “all-in” on a Red Alert 2 reboot and that they “just need to get the green light from the publisher…”
I am of course grateful to the team that has toiled away at the unofficial expansion, Mental Omega, which is now in its final iteration after 17 years of updates. It’s an impressive achievement and a great scratcher for the Red Alert 2 itch.
However, I suspect many of the near-60,000 who have downloaded this free content – myself included – are waiting with a fistful of cash to be handed over to whoever needs it the moment Red Alert 2 Remasted is announced. The game would surely be a shoo-in for the Best Strategy Game award at the Game Awards if it ever materializes.