Despite being a competing game, StarCraft II will be a net positive to Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, says lead designer Samuel Bass of Electronic Arts Los Angeles.
"It's great," Bass said of Blizzard's upcoming title, speaking to Gamasutra as part of a larger interview to be released in the coming weeks.
"Hopefully [StarCraft II] will sell a bazillion copies, and a bunch of people will become much more educated in modern RTS play, and get back online and start playing the games," he explained. "I think, in the end, it’s a good thing."
Along with WarCraft, which has in some ways been overshadowed by its MMO successor, StarCraft and Command & Conquer are arguably the most well-known RTS brands in the world -- so with both series seeing new entries this year, the genre is likely to generate more attention than it has in quite some time.
In fact, Bass pointed out, familiarity with Command & Conquer outstrips its actual player base. He said he frequently encounters gamers -- and even non-gamers -- who are aware of series mainstays like Joe Kucan's Kane character, but have not traditionally dipped their toes into RTS waters. That gives the C&C4 development team the chance to bring new audiences into the fold on the back of existing awareness.
Command & Conquer 4, which will release this month for PC, is based on a class-based system that lets player choose offense, defense, or support roles. Bass said that mechanic grew out of "an attempt to grow that audience a little bit -- to open the doors and say, "Hey, people who are interested but terrified because every time they play an RTS they go online and just eaten by an eleven-year-old Korean kid -- here are some different ways to play. If you like, you can go in and still participate and still enjoy yourself without being on the front line and getting killed.'"
"This is a genre I love," Bass added, "and I’d hate to see it go the way of the flight sim, where it's one development team in Russia doing something that's really incredible but that takes eight years to do."