Since the "Medal of Honor" series was unceremoniously "taken out of the rotation" earlier this year, Electronic Arts will be relying on the "Titanfall," "Battlefield," and "Star Wars: Battlefront" franchises to go toe-to-toe with Activision's yearly "Call of Duty" games.
CVG asked EA Labels president Frank Gibeau if "Battlefield 4" can outsell "Call of Duty: Ghosts" this October, and his response was an unsurprising "yes." "Look, we are absolutely going for it," he explained. "It's a competition and we feel really good about Battlefield 4, and we have an old saying at EA which is 'transition is our friend', and we're going to try to lap them with new technology, new innovation and new capabilities."
The "Call of Duty" franchise is currently helmed by two different development studios, -- Infinity Ward and Treyarch. This allows publisher Activision to crank out a new "Call of Duty" every year. Perhaps unfortunately for EA, "Battlefield 4" developer DICE already has a lot on its plate: they're in the trenches with both "Mirror's Edge 2" and the "Star Wars: Battlefront" reboot.
In non-"Battlefield" years, EA will lean on Respawn Entertainment's "Titanfall," according to CVG.
"The shooter rotation we think about now is 'Battlefield,' 'Titanfall,' and 'Battlefront,' and so we like those three brands going forward," Gibeau explained. "We're working out how we're going to line that up because that's what you'll see from us."
"When we started this challenge, back with [Battlefield] 'Bad Company 1,' I think the ratio was something like 95/5, so we pushed and pulled to get that figure even," Gibeau said.
Gibeau continued by drawing on his experiences with EA Sports. "Something I learned from the EA Sports business - with regards to 'FIFA' versus 'Pro Evolution' and 'Madden' versus 2K - these fights are good for the industry," he said. "They're good for customers."
"Competition drives innovation, and from our perspective some people snigger at these two companies going head-to-head but actually it's good for our industry, it's good for customers and it's good for our dev team."
Tell that to Danger Close and "Medal of Honor," I guess.
What's interesting to me is how Gibeau frames the videogame industry as a zero-sum game -- it almost feels like "Battlefield 4" has to outsell "Call of Duty: Ghosts," as if there aren't enough fans of military first-person shooters to go around. I'm no businessman -- I get paid to blog, not make hypothetical business decisions for multinational media corporations -- but I'm not so sure that "Call of Duty"'s success represents lost sales for Electronic Arts.
To quote an Old El Paso taco commercial, "¿Por qué no los dos?" Assuming comparable quality (and, crucially, marketing support), surely there are enough players out there for both franchises to be profitable and sustainable, right? Gibeau seems to presuppose that not only does the industry need to have yearly iterations of its most popular franchises, but that low sales in one was necessarily caused by another.
If people weren't buying "Medal of Honor," in other words, it might have been because the game was poorly marketed and just not all that good, not because there's only room in the market for one first-person shooter. To wit, I think "Titanfall" looks fast and kinetic and fun on its own terms, not as-compared-to-"Call-of-Duty."
I mean, "Call of Duty: Ghosts" has a dog for crying out loud. Totally different.
"Battlefield 4" will be available on October 29, one week ahead of "Call of Duty: Ghosts." "Titanfall" is planned for next year while "Star Wars: Battlefront" is pegged for 2015 (by which time "Call of Duty" will have included tigers and playable manatees.)
All of these will be available on some combination of Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 except "Titanfall," which is (for the time being) a Microsoft exclusive.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter