Havoc is coming, and now we're starting to talk in hours rather than in days. Renegade is going to herald lots of changes; not simply to the CNC Universe of games, but to it's community. This article discusses how Renegade will, in my humble opinion, effect the CNC Community and how it already has or is effecting the community.
Most of your 'average-gamers' are only made aware of your 'average new-game' a month or two before its release; and they are usually informed in the form of magazine previews/reviews. However, when a game is part of a well-known series, it equals more attention and more hype. Examples of the latter are the Final Fantasy series, the Quake series and, of course, the CNC Series. If Renegade didn't have that C&C tag in front of its name, I would be prepared to stake my life savings on stating that it wouldn't sell as well. Renegade is a big move for Westwood; they are refining the C&C series - now that we know they've made a game other than an RTS, who knows what could be next, perhaps even an RPG? (Westwood have made several RPGs, none set in the C&C universe though).
This next paragraph is based upon the assumption that Renegade will be a big hit. So forgive me for pre-judging. The introduction of an FPS game to the C&C Universe is one that will attract a lot of new blood into the community. Whilst there have been many arguments about what type of game C&C Renegade actually is, I would venture that it is an FPS.. some people argue that it is a "Strategical FPS"; all FPS games involve some form of strategy, so I see little point in labelling Renegade as anything other than an FPS.
The most popular types of game on the internet are FPS games. Names such as Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Quake, Unreal and many more spring to mind when discussing the topic of FPS domination. The communities that these FPS games have created are far larger than the CNC Community; they dwarf it. Using the Counter-Strike community as an example (in the future I will make an article wholly devoted to the topic showing the dwarfing scales of our community and the Counter-Strike one), one can see that (by looking at the GameLists.Net top 100 lists), that the amount of visitors that the top CS sites receive are far, far greater than the amount the top CNC sites receive. I would make the venture that there are roughly 10 CS fans for every CNC fan. So why am I discussing the scale of the CS community compared to ours? - Because I am trying to give some impression of just how large FPS communities can be; and, assuming Renegade is a hit, the new introduction of the FPS fans will make the community far larger. These FPS fans may then try out the RTS games in the series as a result of entering the community via Renegade.
As for the fansites in this community, one can see how the pending release of Renegade has effected several of them. On this site, we originally covered Renegade on a "Sub-site"; we then took the decision to integrate it into the main site. Effectively we turned from an RA2 Fansite, to a C&C fansite. This is an emerging pattern in the community; many RA2 fansites are now turning into C&C or general Westwood fansites. Examples of the latter, excluding ourselves, are that of CNC Mod Makers (previously RA2 Mod Makers) & Westwood Experience (previously RA2 Experience). I am rather confident that this emerging pattern will continue to take place as Renegade comes closer to release/is released. Webmasters in the community have had to make decisions; ones involving the factor of keeping fans on their site - hence preventing them from slowly dying away. And, lets face it, with no more expansion packs in the pipe for RA2, or another patch for Yuri's Revenge (See Interview I conducted with Chris Rubyor), the days of Red Alert 2 do appear to be dawning.. perhaps a Twilight approaches. Some sites in the community have taken the decision to form 'sister sites' to cover Renegade, rather than integrating Renegade into their site, examples of the latter being CNCDen (sister site of RADen) & Havocide (sister site of Red Alert Extreme). I foresee only a handful of sites solely dedicated to RA2/YR being left. Let's face it, webmasters don't want to webmaster dead sites - and, as I previously mentioned, RA2 is coming to the end of it's lifespan - it isn't getting any younger.
Westwood have been plugging the hell out of Renegade. They wanted it to be heard; and it certainly has been. Top gaming news sites (examples being Voodoo Extreme, Blues News & Shack News) always keep one informed of the latest Renegade news and the latest news on the constantly updated Official Renegade Site. Somebody on the Renegade team, or maybe the whole team, are working over-time on Renegade. The fact that we see the official site updated on Saturdays & Sundays, shows the work that Westwood have put into Renegade. The beta is also a good example of how much effort Westwood have spent in publicizing the game. The front of the Westwood site is nearly always dedicated to Renegade now. It makes marketing sense. However, I'm slightly concerned by how the Official Red Alert 2 Site seems to merely be 'echoing' half of the news posts on the Renegade website; check it and you will understand - there is very little "fresh/original" material coming from the Official Red Alert 2 site thesedays; another little indication of the coming to the end of the great Red Alert 2 era. Don't take me wrong though, Red Alert 2 & Yuri's Revenge are still popular games - with lots of players. But, in terms of sales, they aren't going to be as popular - while the dedicated, hard-core fans will keep on playing RA2/YR, they only need one copy. Westwood is a company, companies are designed to be profitable - hence one can easily see why they are now concentrating on Renegade, and, basically, slowly allowing RA2/YR to fade into the background.
The initial previews and reviews for Renegade are exciting; the beta test already seems to have won the game a lot of fans, as has the demo. However, no one can say for sure that these initially positive previews will result in a big-hit - though I'm more than tempted to say it will. I'm excited about Renegade. I'm excited not only in how it will develop our community, but, of course, how good the game is itself. It seems like the perfect game for someone like myself, an C&C RTS fan with a passing interest in FPS games; I would imagine that there are a large number of people who fall into the same predicament.
Renegade will change this community drastically; there will be new faces, new mod teams and many, many more fans. How the community will react to this new influx of visitors remains to be seen, but, if I know this community as well as I think I do, then I'm pretty sure that it will react very positively.