EA Uses “Moral Compass” on Lootboxes, Contradicts Self

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As we all know, EA loves its lootboxes. While they are not the ones who first envisioned them, nor popularized them, they are taking the hardest backlash for them due to the way they monetize their games, even high-tier ones like Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017). And yes, if you already didn’t find out by now, they could simply not resist putting them into Command & Conquer: Rivals.

A few days ago, gamesindustry.biz interviewed EA vice-president of strategic growth Matt Bilbey on matters such as game streaming, VR, game-licensed movies, but what stood out was the last subject – lootboxes. Bilbey states that EA is working with entities such as the Belgian Gaming Commission, which lobbies for legal restrictions on such practices:

I believe what we’re working through with those specific groups at the moment is an education. Not meant in a patronizing way, but just helping them understand how we design the games and the notion of choice and our commitment to making the games fair and fun. We learned a lot from Star Wars: Battlefront.

Additionally, he says that they have an internal “moral compass” that would supposedly ensure “fairness”:

I ran a team internally with Patrick post-Battlefront to actually redesign our game development framework and testing platforms to ensure we’re giving our game teams the right guidance–we’ll call it an EA moral compass–at the beginning of development so that we’re designing our live service early, we’re testing it early, testing it with gamers who are giving us feedback so we ensure those pillars of fairness, value, and fun are true.

PC Gamer’s brief analysis pointed out EA’s self-contradiction. In May 2018, not even a full month after EA chief designer Patrick Söderlund claimed they wanted to avoid another Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017) scenario, EA CEO Andrew Wilson stated in an earnings call that the company would “push forward” with lootboxes.

With EA refusing to take the hint from players and even some countries’ governments, the future of their games seems bleak indeed.

Command & Conquer: Rivals to Introduce Fair Play Changes

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Some hours ago, Redwood Studios announced some fair play features that will be added to Command & Conquer: Rivals before its worldwide launch. Players will be split to leagues (Bronze, Silver, Gold, etc.), and within those leagues, unit levels will be capped, so even if a player has a unit that is over the league's level cap, that unit will be brought down for the durations of the matches in the said league. Once players enter a higher league, they will not be relegated to the lower one again. 

Win streaks will be awarded in a way that after the third consecutive win, the player will receive twice as many medals until the first loss. If, or rather, when the matchmaker does pair two players who are not of a similar level, these matches will be marked as "challenge battles", in which lower-level players will not lose medals upon defeat but will gain double the medals if they win, while higher-level players in such matchups will gain and lose medals as normal. 

Finally, although it wasn't mentioned in the article, commanders will apparently have a change in art style, including the much-criticized design of Kane.

Redwood Studios also stated that they will activate premium currencies before the game launches worldwide, and likely even before these fair play changes. Before this, they announced that the progress achieved by currently active players (still only Android users from the USA and Canada) will not be wiped when the game launches, which even had some of the game's supporters up in arms. The priority choices are "interesting" to say the least.

Nmenth’s Research Lab: Cryogenics

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It is the first Monday of August, so it is time for another article from Nmenth's Research Lab. This month, we will examine technology of Cryogenics in Command & Conquer and see how it compares with reality.

A new technology will be explored in Nmenth's Research Lab on the first Monday of every month. Return next month on the 2nd when I take a closer look at Magnetic Forces.

Red Alert: A Path Beyond Patch 3.2.4.0 Released

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Earlier today, Red Alert: A Path Beyond received the 3.2.4.0 patch. While you might mistake it for a balance patch when looking at the changelog, it is a major thing - a new unit, the Allied Chrono Tank from Red Alert: The Aftermath from 1997, is now a purchasable unit, complete with the chronoshift ability! This is a version you do not want to miss, so update the game or download it fully from the W3D Hub launcher!

C&C Community News – 3 August 2018

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The past few days have seen quite a few important releases in the Command & Conquer modding scene!

  • OpenRA has released playtest version 20180729, which makes the debut of the optional account integration and the use of AppImage for Linux releases (the current stable version is already there), as well as the usual array of bug fixes and balance changes.
  • The Shattered Paradise mod for OpenRA, which makes use of the yet unfinished Tiberian Sun port, has been released. It has five playable factions (GDI, Nod, Forgotten, CABAL, Scrin), and tries to make them all asymmetrical in terms of gameplay.
  • The Red Resurrection mod for Yuri's Revenge got updated to version 2.2.8, which brings balance changes primarily aimed at the European Federation, a new Ares-powered feature that prevents units from self-healing 10 seconds after taking damage, and 22 brand new skirmish/multiplayer maps.

Command & Conquer Wiki Will Move to Gamepedia

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While many people know me as an administrator here at CNCNZ.com, I write this post as one of two active bureaucrats (top-level administrators) of the Command & Conquer Wiki.

Those of you who have followed the news around the Fallout Wikia you may have noticed that Wikia/Fandom has been doing network-wide changes which wiki admins do not have control over. From their talks with Wikia/Fandom staff, we can clearly see that the folks above are not really interested in wikis, which made them big and popular in the first place, and instead try to focus on forced video content and articles as "quaint" as this one. And we did not forget their forcing of auto-playing video content that can not be changed or removed, or backend updates silently breaking a useful template that was only fixed this year.

The active administration (Ssskoopa and myself) have decided to move over to Gamepedia, which is already home to The Vault (a fork of the Fallout Wiki made years ago), the Official Witcher Wiki, Wowpedia, and the up-to-date Overwatch Wiki, to name a few. Their business model puts wikis first and everything else second.

We will update you once the move procedure ends and we get an official URL.

Opposing Front News – Mid/Late July 2018

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Another round of news both from the official side and the community, since neither seem to have full-blown news lately.

From the C&C: Rivals front:

  • A newly revealed community manager for the game, known only under the tag Redwood_dance210 / EA_dance210 has stated on Reddit that, quote, "there are no plans to expand pre-alpha into other territories at this time", as well as publicly announced that the progress made by players who are currently in the pre-alpha build will not be wiped, which in translation means that they will have a head-start compared to newcomers at launch.
  • Since the patch schedule for the game seems to be quite frequent as seen in the official EA Answers HQ subforum, we have compiled current patch notes and Greg Black's pre-patch announcements which shed light on why each change was made. We will keep these pages updated as new patches arrive.

From the community front:

Bibber’s Fixed Ultimate Collection Launchers Updated To v1.20

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Attention, all users of The Ultimate Collection on Origin! Bibber has uploaded version 1.20 of the fixed TUC launchers which should hopefully resolve the issue created by the most recent game updates on Origin. You can download them from his website, or here on CNCNZ.com. Make sure to follow our complete guide on properly installing and patching all games within this compilation!

Nmenth’s Research Lab: Super-Heavy Tanks

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It is the first Monday of July, so it is time for another article from Nmenth's Research Lab. This month, we will examine the iconic Super-Heavy Tanks of Command & Conquer and see how they compare with reality.

A new technology will be explored in Nmenth's Research Lab on the first Monday of every month. Return next month on the 6th when I take a closer look at Cryogenics.

CNCNZ.com Administration Change

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We have some site-related news to post tonight. CNCNZ.com is changing administration, in a way, but not much will actually change.

Before you ask, no, we are not in any danger from shutting down again, like we were a year ago. What happens is this - Rabbit (ex-Zee Hypnotist), who took over the site from the hosting and leadership role, is taking a back seat. He is still our host, and he will still be around on our forums and Discord server from time to time, and will help out if something on the site breaks, but he is no longer the leader of the site. As of this moment, I am. This has been a decision that took a lot of discussion for a long period of time, as Rabbit never intended to fully lead the site, just save it from closure, as he leads a busy private life. On the flip side, I have been working hard on networking with core community leaders (which hasn't been done since C&C Webbies went down), communicating with EA staff, and maintaining information, tech, and gallery pages on the site, so this was another part of the reasoning.

What will change in the site's direction? Probably not much for a while. There are only 3 staff members currently around, which considering the extent of our activities online and offline, doesn't allow for much in terms of new content, though we are always looking for new staff. What will continue is us bringing you both official and community news on Command & Conquer, and I also hope to bring back some neglected features (I know we kept promising a lot over the past year, but I'm trying to keep it real with the features that will be revived).

Thank you all for sticking with us, and we hope that you will do so in the future as well. 

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