Electronic Arts has taken one of its biggest game franchises and launched it as a free-to-play game. Command & Conquer Tiberium Alliances is now available in open beta as a web-based game.

The game requires no download and is part of EA’s Play4Free portfolio. The title is a massively multiplayer online strategy game that is based in the sci-fi universe of Command & Conquer. C&C is one of the five best-selling PC game franchises of all time, with more than 30 million units sold to date.

In the game, players harvest resources, build armies, forge alliances, and then fight for world domination. Command & Conquer Tiberium Alliances has in-game news and status feeds and updates that keep players involved in the changing competitive dynamics. While C&C players are accustomed to real-time strategy with beautiful graphics on the PC, this game runs slower and its graphics are scaled down so they can fit within a browser-based format.

The result is that the game is not as fun to play, but it runs on vastly more web-connected devices — such as smartphones and tablets — than a normal C&C game would. The drawbacks are presumably why EA has launched the game as a free-to-play title. But players who are drawn to the team-oriented nature of the game might like it enough to pay for virtual goods.

Meanwhile, EA’s BioWare division is working on Command & Conquer Generals 2, using the advanced Frostbite 2 game engine. That full-fledged game will be disk-based with high-end graphics.