Video-game behemoth Electronic Arts finally woke up and smelt the coffee recently when it announced that it is to mothball its Medal of Honor franchise. On a recent investor call EA's COO Peter Moore confirmed that the Medal of Honor series will not be returning in the near future.
In the call Moore said, "We struggled with two challenges: the
slowdown that impacted the entire sector and poor critical and
commercial reception for Medal of Honor Warfighter. "Medal of Honor was an obvious miss. The game was solid, but the focus on combat authenticity did not resonate with consumers. "Critics were polarized and gave the game scores which were,
frankly, lower than it deserved. This one is behind us now. We are
taking Medal of Honor out of the rotation, and have a plan to bring
year-over-year continuity to our shooter offerings."
One of the biggest challenges EA faced with rebooting MOH was that it already had one of the best shooters on the market in the form of its Battlefield franchise. Rebooting a modern Afghansitan themed MOH and following that up with its lacklustre MOH Warfighter sequel last year did nothing but cannibalise its own brand and alienate MOH and BF3 fans.
Rather than focus its entire energy in strengthening its BF brand it decided instead to take on Activision's Call of Duty franchise with two different products, the problem was both products were fighting for exactly the same consumer dollar.
Why anyone in their right mind at EA thought that offering two modern day military shooters to exactly the same buyer in the same year from the same publisher was a sound idea I have absolutely no idea.
Medal of Honor made its gaming return in 2011 after a three-year hiatus with an agressively cool marketing campaign ("Experts in the Application of Violence) which based its dark and moody brand message on a Tier 1 Special Forces character called "Cowboy" who just so happens to be a real Tier 1 operator. The game, developed by both Danger Close and DICE, received a lukewarm critical reception but fared reasonably well commercially. Last year’s MOH: Warfighter, fared far worse and sold just over 300,000 units in its first week in the US, significantly below analyst expectations. By contrast MOH sold 2 million copies in its first two weeks on the market.
"Critics were polarized and gave the game scores which were, frankly, lower than it deserved," EA COO Peter Moore told investors. "This one is behind us now. We are taking Medal of Honor out of the rotation and have a plan to bring year-over-year continuity to our shooter offerings."
The question remains why EA even attempted to cannabalize its own brand by diluting it against a far superior and better performing product, Battlefield’s stock has never been higher, with EA revealing that the Premium subscription service for Battlefield 3 has attracted 2.9m subscribers and generated sales of over $108m.
The fact is EA wasted a ton of money and time by diverting attention into a lesser performing brand when it could have created a significant war chest to formulate a killer strategy to catch up to Activision. As a brand things have never looked so positive for Battlefield 3, the game has sold 10 million copies worldwide, across all platforms. What’s even more important to know, the sales numbers only include until December 31, 2011.
Coca Cola only have one Cola, there are different versions of it sure, Diet, Vanilla,Cherry but it focuses on delivering a strong brand message on that one brand. Coca Cola, Santa drinks it, Polar Bears drink it and those young trendy 20 somethings frolicking in the park on a summers day drink it. The fact is there isn't another similar Cola product closely similar to Coca Cola that Coca Cola promote, and why should it?, its not necessary, it doesn't need to deliver another closely matching product to dilute its own brand to the same consumer which is exactly what EA did when it launched two closely matching genre titles together.
If you have a strong brand but an equally more powerful competitor in the same market space you have to focus all your energy into reinforcing what you have, not weakening its brand message by adding another "me too" entity into the same space when the market doesn't require it.