Almost two weeks after posting a poor third quarter earnings report, video game publisher Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) has decided to be more candid about why its highly anticipated 2012 holiday release of “Medal of Honor: Warfighter” was so disappointing.
Speaking in an interview with the PC gaming website Rock, Paper, Shotgun, EA’s Chief Creative Director John Hilleman on Tuesday said the company ran into problems last year when it tried to pack too many games into its release schedule, leaving the publisher little time to ensure proper quality assurance testing.
"We don’t think it’s a genre problem. It's an execution problem," Hilleman said. "We don’t think Medal of Honor’s performance speaks to any particular bias in that space against modern settings or World War II or any of that. It's much more that we had some things we should've done better.
“I think a key part of this is having the right amount of high-quality production talent,” he added. “And we didn’t have the quality of leadership we needed to make [Medal of Honor] great. We just have to get the leadership aligned.”
During its call with investors last month, EA said the military shooter franchise had been “taken out of rotation” due to challenges from what Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore called “the slowdown that impacted the entire sector [the video game industry] and poor critical and commercial reception ‘Medal of Honor: Warfighter.’”
While Moore insisted at the time of EA’s earnings call that “polarized” reactions to “Metal of Honor” garnered the game review scores “lower than it deserved,” Hilleman’s comments to RPS seemed to place the responsibility for “Warfighter’s” inauspicious debut squarely on the developer and publisher itself. His admission also complements analyst reactions to the title, many of whom were surprised to see such a weak first-person shooter coming from a company with a long history producing acclaimed military-style shooters like the “Battlefield” and “Crysis” franchises.
“It’s not like they don’t know how to do these first-person shooters,” Arvind Bhatia, an analyst at Sterne Agee, told the IBTimes at the time of EA’s third quarter earnings report. “The overall quality of the title [‘Medal of Honor: Warfighter’] wasn’t that high.”
While EA has shelved “Medal of Honor” for the time being to focus on the next “Battlefield” game and an upcoming untitled project helmed by former “Call of Duty” developers, the company noted that its old and storied shooter franchise has not been abandoned entirely.
“We’re blessed to have more titles than we can do well today,” Hilleman told RPS. “That’s a good problem, frankly. In the long term, we have to make sure we don’t kill those products by trying to do them when we can’t do them well.
“What we think right now is that, for the next couple years, we can just have one great thing in that space,” he concluded. “So we’re choosing for it to be Battlefield.”
EA shares dropped more than 1.3 percent in morning trading Wednesday, falling to $17.25 per share shortly after 10:20 am EST.