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Analyst:  Medal Of Honor  Needs More Buzz To Defeat  Call Of Duty

Analyst: Medal Of Honor Needs More Buzz To Defeat Call Of Duty

September 28, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

September 28, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

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.

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