Battlefield 3 sold really well. Modern Warfare 3 sold really, REALLY well. But who won the war?
Of course, that all depends on how you deal with the numbers.
EA’s mission prior to the release of Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 was simple – it wanted to prize some of Call of Duty’s prized market share from it.
“We will give Activision a hard time in the space,” EA’s European Publishing SVP Jens Uwe Intat, told MCV in September.
"That’s what we are doing in the shooter space. Rome wasn’t built in a day. We might not do it Day One. Activision has 90 per cent of the shooter market, and we want to see that go down to 70. I would be even happier if they were left with 60 per cent.”
Did EA achieve its goal?
There are lots of variables and mitigating factors we have to consider here. First off, Activision’s numbers are for the UK and US while EA’s are, presumably, global. But as we’re not sure we’ll ignore that for now.
So taking those numbers and squaring them off against one another, that works out as a 56 per cent share for Modern Warfare 3 and a 44 per cent share for Battlefield 3.
That’s a big PR win for EA, right? It has achieved its aim. It has claimed some of Call of Duty’s cherished market share.
But of course, it’s also a PR win for Activision for the simply reason that it’s just launched the biggest entertainment release of all time and smashed the records set by Black Ops. It. Sold. More. Games.
Now, to the other mitigating factors. Then there’s EA’s ambiguous “a matter of days” statement. Its numbers were released a week after the US launch and four days after the European launch.
So let’s try and give Modern Warfare 3, which has now been out for over three days, a more even footing.
So, following that sales pattern we can presume that by the weekend Modern Warfare 3, which will have then been on the market for five days, will have sold around 14m units.
Now, if we take the five day figures of 12m for Modern Warfare 3 and 5m for Battlefield 3 we get a very different result – a 7o per cent market share for Activision and 30 per cent share for Battlefield.
Who wins then?
Well, EA has successfully eroded Activision’s market share. Though Activision has sold many, many more games. EA has eroded Activision’s 90 per cent share of the market and claimed a bigger pie. Activision has blown EA out of the water.
My dad’s bigger than your dad. I can run faster than you. Digital claims its biggest market share ever. GameStop posts record sales and profits.
That’s the thing with numbers – you can do what you want with them.
The key thing here is that in face of the most hostile retail environment in over a decade two companies have successfully produced and released two games that have enjoyed huge popularity with consumers. Games are still a success.
We all win.