BioWare's long-awaited Command & Conquer Generals 2 is to become part of a larger, groundbreaking project, as Electronic Arts has announced that next year's instalment in the hugely successful real-time-strategy series is going to be free-to-play.

Simply called Command & Conquer, the new client-based game will offer plenty of content that won't cost a PC gamer a penny. It is believed further missions and upgrades will be offered as in-game purchases, although EA said - at Gamescom 2012 in Cologne, Germany - that the latest set in the Generals universe would come at no cost.

"The previously announced Command & Conquer Generals 2 has been transformed to be a part of this new digital experience, giving gamers complete access to the cutting-edge visuals, sound and destruction of a full, AAA strategy game – for free," it said.

"The new online platform and service will launch in 2013, with the Generals universe representing the first of many free offerings within the storied franchise EA is planning to launch with Command & Conquer."

The game uses the Frostbite 2 engine, so will look fantastic - something you can see in the official announcement trailer - and fans are being urged to sign up for a chance to participate in a closed beta at

While coming as a bit of a surprise, this can be seen as a new attempt by Electrionic Arts to combat piracy of its triple-A titles.

What do you think? Good or bad move by EA? Let us know in the comments below...