Activision and Electronic Arts may have just had an exchange of words in the press, but this fall, the two publishers' competing first-person shooters will square off at retail -- and one analyst believes that EA may be seriously challenged in its stated ambitions to seize the category
from its rival.
"We are increasingly concerned about the prospects for Medal of Honor
," says Kaufman Bros. analyst Todd Mitchell. "The game is not developing the level of buzz necessary to knock Call of Duty
off its perch."
Medal of Honor
launches October 12, while Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops
is set to hit November 9. Both games have drawn attention with their share of controversy.
Earlier this year, the drama surrounding the departure of Modern Warfare
house Infinity Ward's Jason West and Vince Zampella -- and the subsequent exodus of many of that studio's employees to the pair's new studio, Respawn Entertainment -- led many analysts to express concern about a trickle-down effect on the Call of Duty
brand and Treyarch's upcoming installment.
As for Medal of Honor
, its most recent headlines concerned the controversy
about the option for players to assume the role of Taliban insurgents in the game's multiplayer modes.
But despite media attention, Mitchell says it's the launch timing that might damage Medal of Honor
's prospects, calling it "ill-timed, sandwiched between the September 14 release of Microsoft's Halo: Reach
, which recorded $200 million in first-day sales
, and the November 9 release of Call of Duty: Black Ops
The increasing lifespan of titles with strong multiplayer components may come to bear on the fall-holiday shooter sales battle; after almost a year as the most-played title on Xbox Live, Modern Warfare 2
was at last unseated
by Halo: Reach
And according to analysts, Black Ops
preorders are outpacing those of Modern Warfare 2
, which set new industry unit sales and revenue records at launch. Although few expect Black Ops
, less pedigreed than the Modern Warfare
brand, to top that performance, analysts say it could sell some 10 to 12 million units
in its first year, an uncommonly good showing.
There is quite likely plenty of overlap in the audiences for Reach
, Medal of Honor
and Black Ops
, and it's possible it could take some time before Reach
wears off on gamers. "We really don't see a rationale for owning all three of these games," Mitchell says.