“Welcome to the big leagues Eric,” EA spokesperson Jeff Brown said in a comment issued to Kotaku but adressed to Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision and the man who said in Germany this week that EA’s expressed hopes that his company’s Call of Duty will “rot from the core” are harmful for the industry.
“I know you’re new in the job,” Brown continued, “but someone should have told you this is an competitive industry. You’ve got every reason to be nervous. Last year Activision had a 90 share in the shooter category. This year, Battlefield 3 is going to take you down to 60 or 70. At that rate, you’ll be out of the category in 2-3 years. If you don’t believe me, go to the store and try to buy a copy of Guitar Hero or Tony Hawk.”
As CEOs or spokespeople often do, Brown was boiling down the heated competition between EA and Activision’s shooter games to numbers. The share he refers to is the amount of games sold in a genre go to a single series. The Call of Duty/Modern Warfare dominance in the military shooter genre has frustrated EA, whose Medal of Honor series used to dominate and whose recent Battlefield: Bad Company games, while well-reviewed, couldn’t budge the king from his throne. EA’s been wanting to take Activision down for a while, with Bad Company, with a revived Medal of Honor but also with the assumption that their best shout would be October’s Battlefield 3. That game is aimed to battle with Activision’s November-scheduled Modern Warfare 3.
Brown’s crack about Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk is a reference to those once-dominant music and sports series falling so badly that neither has a new game out this year.
Activision has had limited reasons to sweat EA lately. Its Call of Duty and Modern Warfare games have been smashing sales records for several consecutive numbers, easily cracking 10 million copies sold swiftly, ruling online play for months after their release. Activision is on the verge of launching a free and premium Call of Duty community and stat-tracking service and is staging a Call of Duty fan convention next month. Those are either the signs of the bubble Brown believes Battlefield is about to burst or they are the evidence that the juggernaut Call of Duty continues to be in shape to shrug off all comers.