Q The FPS genre's very mature know and has lots of history - working on Battlefield you'll be aware that it's increasingly hard to innovate in such a venerable space. There are similar challenges for Command & Conquer in the RTS space, aren't there? Sean Decker:
I think we're doing some of that with Command & Conquer 4. When Westwood first started the genre, from Dune 2 onwards, there have been some things that people have pulled in - like resource-gathering and buildings - and to break out of that, you have to break out of some of those tenets that people think you have to use.
For example, Battlefield said let's take 64 people and throw them in a sandbox, and see what they want to do. If you think about Command & Conquer 4, we're taking lots of those tenets and kind of throwing them out - now you're really one person controlling this battle, and it's all based on something that actually moves, as opposed to the Tiberium harvester and so on.
We think of World War I to World War II - the first was all about the trenches, the fixed positions, and that's the same as Command & Conquer. The second one was the Blitzkrieg, everything on the move, and this is where this is going. You don't know where the guy is, he's not fixed in one location.
It's things like that, and player progression - people want to feel some ownership of what they play. With multiplayer in the past it's been win or lose, but now it's more about how a person did, how much experience they gathered, maybe they get another unlock so they can take them on again with a different tactic...
So there are a lot of innovations in Command & Conquer 4 right now and I think you'll see us continue to innovate year-on-year. Q How do you balance the needs of the solo player with those of the multiplayer? Sean Decker:
Right now the majority of our players play single player, but when they're done with the game about 40 per cent go on and play online. So I think you need to respect both of those - and first-person shooters have the same thing. The vast majority of people would finish the campaign, and then about 40 per cent of players would go online.
The consoles have done a great job of online... Xbox Live, you can collect everything you've ever done, and it's super-easy to connect - just give us your line and your accounts and go from there. We need to get to that level of accessibility for people [on the PC] and find more reasons for people to play.
When you think about the reasons people play, there are so many - there are very competitive people, there are people who are co-operative and want to play with their friends, there are people who are collectors who want every achievement and award... and everybody has different things to motivate them to go online, and the question is, can you provide what that person wants?
So far we've provided some of those elements, but not all - and that's what we're going to try and do.