Shares in Electronic Arts were down nearly six percent today as lower than expected reviews for the company's Medal of Honor
franchise reboot dampened shareholder enthusiasm for the game's release.
The Wall Street Journal (registration required) notes that
the company's stock had risen over 15 percent in the last six weeks on expectations that the game's strong pre-orders
would lead to strong holiday sales.
But that stock rally seems to have turned around on today's release of largely middling reviews for the new title, the first in the franchise since 2007's Medal of Honor: Heroes 2
The game's 22 reviews currently average out to a Metascore of 74 on popular aggregator Metacritic, which is similar to the score for some recent games in the series but well below the widespread critical praise for last year's top-selling Modern Warfare 2
Analysts were ambivalent on the reason behind stock drop, with Lazard Capital Markets' Colin Sebastian telling the Journal the market may simply be using the news as an excuse to lock-in recent gains, and MKM's Eric Handler saying the game could still be a hit for EA.
"This is a high-profile game where EA owns the [intellectual property], which can result in above-average margins as no license fee or royalty has to be paid to another entity," Handler told the paper. "As such, I think it's a situation where some of the air is being let out of the balloon following a nice run in the shares and high expectations for the Medal of Honor
Despite a heavy marketing campaign that began nearly a year ago with a reveal
at the Spike TV Video Game Awards, analysts recently warned Medal of Honor
needed more buzz
to take on next month's release of Call of Duty: Black Ops
The game attracted controversy
for an option to play as the Taliban in multiplayer firefights, leading EA to remove the name
from the title at the last moment.
The Los Angeles Times cites an EA statement
which downplays the importance of today's Medal of Honor
reviews for the game's sales success.
"The game had the highest pre-orders in the 11-year history of the Medal of Honor
franchise," the company said. "This is an essentially big achievement considering Medal of Honor
has been dormant for several years. This is the first year in rebooting the franchise."
"Medal of Honor
is part of a larger EA strategy to take share in the shooter category," the statement continues. "This is a marathon not a sprint -– today’s Medal of Honor
launch represents a step forward in that race."]