EA dismisses Q4 rivals

July 29th by Johnny Minkley

Electronic Arts has blasted an expected “lack of competition” this Christmas, insisting that its own line-up is “an embarrassment of riches” compared to rivals.

The bullish US publishing giant has come out fighting after witnessing a share price slump due to big hope The Godfather slipping into next year. It has also seen its market share slip in the UK during the first half of this year, down from 18 per cent to 15 per cent according to ChartTrack data. Back-catalogues sales have fallen too – £25m year-on-year.

But even without The Godfather, plus cut-backs in marketing spend this year, EA is confident of an autumn and winter surge.

“Our remaining line-up is an embarrassment of riches once again,” EA’s VP of corporate communications Jeff Brown told MCV. “To be honest, there isn’t much competition in the holiday season this year. Last year they called it murderer’s row. From our perspective I just don’t think ’05 is going to be as competitive.”

Industry analyst Nick Parker agreed: “There’s nothing that’s going to approach the sales of the top three of last year. There’s no GTA, no Half-Life 2 or Halo 2. The market may not grow.

“In fact, it could easily be flat or even down, as there just isn’t the same quality of products around this year.”

Key EA releases. Can rivals do better?

Need For Speed Most Wanted (PS2, Xbox, GC, PC, DS)
Having topped the Christmas charts for the past two years, the latest in the massive racing franchise is a red-hot favourite for festive glory.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (GBA, DS, GC, PC, PS2, PSP, Xbox)
Following the record-breaking success of the sixth book in Rowling’s saga, and with a movie to coincide, Potter-mania shows no sign of faltering.

From Russia With Love (PS2, Xbox, GC)
After the disastrous GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, EA desperately needs to restore some credibility to its Bond licence. Thankfully, this Sean Connery-starring action title looks set to do just that.

FIFA 2006 (PS2, Xbox, PC, PSP, DS)
While specifics are still a closely guarded secret, trade and punters alike know the drill by now. Expected to sell by the bucket-load through the Christmas period.

The Sims 2 (GBA, DS, GC, PS2, PSP, Xbox)
EA will be hoping it can emulate the staggering success of the PC version on console.

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