Medal of Honor brand may be dead, says Pachter

The disappointing performance could be a "fatal" blow to the whole franchise and EA's plans to dominate the shooter market

EA, during an earnings call yesterday, fully acknowledged the disappointing performance of Medal of Honor: Warfighter. While exact sales were not mentioned, the title did not hit targets and reviews of the game were simply not good. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter thinks the bad reception could mark the end of Medal of Honor as a brand and severely hinder EA's ongoing quest to dethrone rival Activision from the top spot in the shooter market.

"The last iteration of Medal of Honor received an average Metacritic score of 75 in 2010 (after its predecessor received an average score of 73 in 2007), and EA management committed to improving quality with this year's release. Instead, with an average score of only 50, the game is likely to fall short of revenue expectations by $100 million or more. Perhaps more importantly, the poor performance of Medal of Honor makes it highly unlikely that EA can deliver significant digital revenues from DLC subscriptions next year, and sets the company up for a disappointing comparison to the $204 million in digital revenues it expects from Battlefield this year," he noted.

Pachter continued, remarking on NBA Live as well, which unlike Medal of Honor, he thinks can rebound: "The cancellation of NBA Live means that EA has had a team (likely several different teams) working on the game for the last three years without any revenue contribution to show for their efforts. We think management did an extremely poor job of explaining these missteps, and understand why many investors remain skeptical. In our view, it is imperative that EA management acknowledge that they understand the underlying causes for the execution missteps, and commit to shareholders that these causes will be addressed, and that there will be a turnaround in game quality. It may be too late for the Medal of Honor brand, as a score as low as this one received may be fatal. We are more optimistic that the NBA brand will remain intact, and are confident that a quality game will come out next year."

While Battlefield has been a top performer, Medal of Honor hasn't held up its end, and that means EA will have a long way to go before it can topple Activision and Call of Duty.

"These missteps should not be taken lightly. A few years ago, EA management set forth a strategy to displace Activision as king of the first-person shooter heap, and said it intended the duo of Medal of Honor and Battlefield to alternate releases and slowly take share from Activision," Pachter said.

"Warfighter's review scores may have destroyed chances for sequels in the all-important first-person shooter segment of the market...We think that low review scores will impair EA's (and the Medal of Honor brand's) reputation with those who pre-ordered the game or bought it as soon as it was released (likely some of EA's most dedicated customers), and believe EA alienated at least a small portion of these gamers."

"Given the impairment to the Medal of Honor brand, we think EA is unlikely to take Activision's mantle as the leading developer of first-person shooters for several years."

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Latest comments (17)

Craig Burkey Software Engineer 7 years ago
What ever you think about CoD, Activision know how to market it, I've not played either MoH or CoD but the CoD adverts with Guns and Roses playing to explosions seems to me as much more exciting prospect than the MoH advert which resembles more of a TA advertisment than a game.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Craig Burkey on 31st October 2012 4:25pm

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Nic Wechter Senior Designer, Black Tusk (MGS Vancouver)7 years ago
I'm surprised that this game isn't selling, I assumed it would sell at least as well as MOH 2010.
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Graham Simpson Tea boy, Collins Stewart7 years ago
I'm quite enjoying the single player. Nothing new but then I just like a modern army setting especially running the middle east. I also really like the MOH reboot SP (though short). The DICE built MP was quite special and severely underrated. This is more a case of there can only be one FPS and thats CoD. BF continues to very very low quality SP bolted onto a large battlefield type FPS. CoD and BF can co-exist but both appeal to different people as well some of the same.
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Show all comments (17)
Pier Castonguay Programmer 7 years ago
I find it funny that they blame the user base for their mistakes. If the game review score low, that's not because the fanbase is gone, it's because the game quality itself is low. I haven't played it personally yet and I expect to love it because I always like single player campaigns of shooter, but many gamers expect innovation and a full blown product, not just a controlled campaign copying the past games.
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MOH might pick up well over the holiday period. ....which should start anytime soon (I'm surprised there isnt Christmas sales in June!)
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Hugo Dubs Interactive Designer 7 years ago
@Pier: You may be right, but in my opinion, a lot of reviews are not so objectives. Im thinking about Kokaku's review which is just bad...
the guy is taking himself as a super star writer comparing the game to CoD, CoD, and CoD again. Spitting on people's work, and make me feel like he was payed to talk in a negative way.

In the end, 75/100 is not so bad and even if MoH is not a "good" game, at least there is some experience to live. Btw, most of players said the game was a middle ground between CoD and MoH. Hard to positionate yourself in such competitive genre.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Hugo Dubs on 31st October 2012 5:07pm

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Hugo Trepanier Senior Game Designer, Ludia7 years ago
Pier, where does it say that EA blames their fanbase, have you read this elsewhere? Sounds like a silly thing to say or even think, and although EA's PR will do everything to minimize damage to the brand I don't believe they would go as far as blaming the fans in any way.

I personally was very disappointed with the MP demo of this game, enough to put off a planned pre-order, and now with the low reviews I'll wait for this game to reach the rebate bin before I grab my copy. Their UI was miserable and I did not enjoy the map's layout or setting, but the new spawning mechanics worked great. It saddens me because I've always been a fan of this series (since Allied Assault anyway) and I was really looking forward to this one.

Also, Pier...
I always like single player campaigns of shooter
Please tell me you have a more developed critical sense than that ;)
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Pier Castonguay Programmer 7 years ago
@Hugo Dubs: I completely agree that some "professional" reviewers doesn't deserve their title, but the average metarating still usually give some kind of reference.

@Hugo Trepanier: It's pretty much implied. They say they will cancel the series based on the low sales, which is like saying "we will stop doing this game if gamers don't appreciate it". My comment was simply to point out that the low sales reason might be in their own yard, and it's not a reason to cancel a series, just try to do the next one better. You said it yourself that the game disappointed you. Also, yes with over 600 games completed in my lifetime, I have very developed critical sense for gaming. I only mentioned that I'm personally a fan of single player FPS, and I love lower-quality games in this genre that others might despise.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Pier Castonguay on 31st October 2012 6:11pm

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
Eh, Patcher again? Whatever. It's EA's call (of duty, ha ha) at the end of the day, anyway.

Hell, maybe they SHOULD have just merged MoH with Battlefirld earlier and re-branded the damn franchise?

Can I get a job at EA if my ideas are better than theirs?
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@ Greg - interesting idea. Maybe BF: Tier 1 ?
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
I had that dopey idea as soon as I heard the MoH franchise was returning and I'm surprised EA didn't do that instead of releasing two shooters that were fundamentally the same in terms of point gun at stuff, shoot 'til dead, rinse and repeat.

The main issue for me isn't that MoH is "bad" at all, as a lot of work has gone into getting some stuff right. I think general combat fatigue has set into the FPS genre, so even if Warfighter had the best plot ever for a modern war game, you'd still see some reviews noting that it's all "been there, done that" or whatever.
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Dave Knudson Sr. Technology Manager, Electronic Arts7 years ago
Honestly from reading comments in some various forums the game doesn't seem to be as bad as reviewers made it out to be.

I think I can understand where reviewers are coming from though. I recently was given a decently MC rated game by a friend, and sat down to play it this weekend. After an hour I had decided that I didn't really like it and probably won't play it again as I have a big backlog of other stuff to try.

Thinking of how I felt at that point and the putting myself in a reviewer's shoes where: a. I did not get a review copy earlier and b. I have to grind through and play many more hours in a short time to get my review out...I am not going to be the happiest person.. Every bit of polish that is lacking or annoying bug is just going to resonate that much more.
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Hugo Trepanier Senior Game Designer, Ludia7 years ago
So, Dave, are you suggesting that if reviewers had more time to play the game in advance they would actually have enjoyed it more and possibly given it a better rating?

There's some truth to genre fatigue though. A few years back we had the same situation where yet another WWII game would hit the market and people would automatically complain. No matter how good the game was or could have been, the simple fact it was set during WWII was enough for some to hate it. Today, different time and place, same problem.
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Jamie Read 3D Artist, Neon Play Ltd7 years ago
I see MoH as a gap-fill series now. It gets released in between Battlefield games to keep FPS gamers ticking over on EA products.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 7 years ago
I'm going to just C&P what I put in the other MOH thread:

I think it's time they put this series to bed the same way Activision halted Tony Hawk development once that series also lost most of it's audience. Despite name recognition MOH really isn't a very popular series anymore, especially when compared to Halo, COD and Battlefield. The best thing EA can do is to halt development on this series for atleast 3-5 years. By then there may be some renewed interest for it but I wouldn't neccesarily hold my breath.
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Varun Tyagi AI Programmer 7 years ago
It is sad to see that only money matters now in games. That decides whether to continue a franchise or not. I personally think MOH is not that bad game at all. It is just everyone is so covered up with COD in there head that they are just not ready to accept any other game similar to that. Its not like COD doesn't have bad AI or repetitiveness of the scenes or we have to do anything else other than shooting in COD. It is just Acitivision has been able to fill every mind with good amount of COD stuff. I hope EA takes a good decision and don't cancel the franchise.
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Brendan Sinclair North American Editor, GamesIndustry.biz7 years ago
Brands don't die that easy. They're like Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers rolled into one. Medal of Honor ain't dead; it's just asleep.
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