EA backs Medal of Honor to prosper

Publisher EA says that Medal of Honor’s battle to make a name for itself in the already crowded shooter category is a marathon not a sprint” as the game gets off to a less than ideal start ahead of its release on Friday.

Gamasutra reports that shares in the company fell six per cent yesterday on the back of review scores that were lower than many had expected.

Early reviews look decidedly Tier 2 and appear to be somewhat disappointing,” Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz stated. With the revamped Medal of Honor heralded as a presumptive challenger to Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty franchise in the important first person shooter genre, we were expecting review scores in at least the 85-90 per cent range.

Failing to achieve this target would be a bit of a black eye for EA management given the amount of focus and hype they have placed on the game. We believe the mixed reviews could impact the title’s legs as it will likely be competitively disadvantaged once Activision releases Call of Duty: Black Ops.”

And Lazard Capital analyst Colin Sebastian remains confident. The average Metacritic rating for MOH was an OK score, but not high enough to drive significant incremental unit sales, in our view.

In addition, the score likely does not ensure that EA has another recurring hit title in its portfolio. As such, we believe there may be less upside potential in for EA. Nonetheless, we still believe Medal of Honor can ship roughly 4m units this quarter worldwide on the back of significant advertising and a relatively open launch window.

For comparison, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 on the Xbox 360 scored a 94, and we expect another high score (85+) for Call of Duty Black Ops shipping in November.”

EA has always been keen to point out that its game is just the beginning of the Medal of Honor resurgence, and that the industry shouldn’t rush to early conclusions.

The game had the highest pre-orders in the 11-year history of the Medal of Honor franchise,” the publisher told The LA Times. 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. This is a marathon not a sprint – today’s Medal of Honor launch represents a step forward in that race.”

The comments echo those made to MCV by European SVP Jens Uwe Intat last month, when the exec insisted:

We certainly want to get back on top for shooters with Medal of Honor. We’re not going to outdo Call of Duty this year but it will get dangerously close. This is going to be a journey, as it has been with the way FIFA overtook PES.”

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