Medal of Honor reviews "a black eye for EA management", cause share dip
But publisher and some analysts remain optimistic about longer-term recovery
EA's share price fell by 6 per cent last night, apparently following the release of and critical reception to rebooted shooter Medal of Honour.
The game currently holds a 74 (PS3) and 76 (360) per cent review average on Metacritic - likely to be considered disappointing for a high-profile modern combat title intended to compete with Call of Duty.
Failing to achieve 85-90 per cent is "a black eye for EA management given the amount of focus and hype they have placed on the game," reasoned Cowen and Company analysts Doug Cruetz and Adam Noily, in a post-release assement titled "Early Medal of Honour reviews look decidedly Tier 2."
"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. We continue to believe MoH can achieve roughly 4MM units in first year worldwide sales but believe that the likelihood of upside to that figure is now significantly diminished."
Cowen felt EA's planned revenue recovery over the next year was endangered as a result of Medal of Honor's predicted performance, and rated the publisher's stock neutral.
In a statement to the LA Times, EA attempted to shrug off the lower-end reviews, drawing attention to a number of higher-scoring ones.
"Critics' scores are highly subjective," it said. "The game had the highest pre-orders in the 11-year history of the Medal of Honor franchise; 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."
Other analysts felt the share price drop might be due to artificial levels of inflation in the game's much-hyped run up to release.
Said Eric Handler of MKM Partners to The Wall Street Journal, "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."
"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."
Lazard's Colin Sebastian agreed, noting that EA's stock risen some 15 per cent over the last six weeks, but noted that the mid-level reviews were "certainly bugging people."
EA's initial share price drop of $1.05 had recovered by $0.09 at the time of writing.