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.
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.
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.