EA Gunned Down by Friendly Fire

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Today should have been a good day for Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS  ) .

Its anxiously anticipated Medal of Honor video game hits retailers this morning, and the early buzz was positive. Two weeks ago, EA reported that the game had the highest pre-sales in the franchise's 11-year history.

Now that the battlefield is real -- and professional reviewers have kicked the jeep tires -- the prognosis for EA's war shooter isn't as cheery.

  • "With serious stability and performance issues on console, level design that tends more toward turkey shoot than firefight, and a story and characters that stumble in their attempts at relevance and pathos, Medal of Honor walks into a quagmire it never really escapes from," writes IGN, before giving it an unimpressive 6.0 out of 10.0 rating.
  • "Medal of Honour [sic] is a game that struggles with identity," claims PC Gamer.
  • "Medal of Honor's campaign is an exceptional experience, but the total package simply doesn't beat Call of Duty," opines Joystiq, referring to the success of Activision Blizzard's (Nasdaq: ATVI  ) rival -- and more popular -- franchise.
  • "It's no secret that the franchise has lost its way over the years, and it has the declining review scores to show for it," Game Informer writes.

In sum, the pros either don't like it or feel that it doesn't raise the bar in the genre. The early word from consumers is even uglier. Just a handful of gamer reviews had trickled into as of last night, and more than half of them pelted the Xbox 360 version with the lowest 1-star rating.

When diehard gamers vent, investors start to notice. Shares of EA tumbled 6% yesterday, after Cowen & Co.'s analyst alerted his clients about the disappointing reviews.

This doesn't mean that Medal of Honor is toast. Even the scathing IGN review praises the game's multiplayer mode -- the way that many gamers are enjoying their historical battle shootouts these days. However, it's unlikely to be the hit that EA needs.

The industry itself has been smarting since early last year. There are the occasional welcome surprises. Take-Two Interactive (Nasdaq: TTWO  ) posted an unexpected profit in its latest quarter, fueled by the sleeper hit Red Dead Redemption. Leading niche retailer GameStop (NYSE: GME  ) has managed to outrun the sector's fading ways. However, the battlefront shooter genre has been one of the few bright spots in the industry -- and EA needs to make sure that it doesn't fire blanks this week.

Did you pick up a copy of EA's new game? Share your thoughts -- and shots -- in the comment box below.

Take-Two Interactive Software is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation., Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts are Motley Fool Stock Advisor choices. Motley Fool Options has recommended a synthetic long position on Activision Blizzard. Motley Fool Options has recommended writing covered calls on GameStop. The Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard and Take-Two Interactive Software. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz will admit to still playing video games, though finding time is the rub. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (0)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 13, 2010, at 1:56 PM, jlizzard wrote:

    Good going EA! Screwed up another game that had potential. Stop making crappy games and invest some time and money back into DAOC!

  • Report this Comment On October 13, 2010, at 4:00 PM, BioBat wrote:

    EAs been making well hyped but crappy games for some time now. I can remember all the hype that surrounded Spore a couple of years ago - how it was going to be a r-Evolutionary game. All it ended up being was an hour or so of actual interesting game followed by tedious gameplay. Way to catch people's attention. Then there was the Beetle's Rockband - a great game, and a great band - it was just about 50 years too late. Then there was NBA Live, no wait NBA Elite that is getting delayed till god knows when, and may be released just in time for the NBA playoffs because that's when we want to go out and buy the newest NBA title. Way to hand over a sports title to the competition EA! Now we've got MoH, superbly hyped, looking to cash in on the CoD wartime FPS genre and they screwed the pooch. For a company that's loaded in cash and has a history (ancient history at this point) of making great games, I'm shocked how far they've gone downhill. I'm anxiously awaiting their screw up of Deadspace 2.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2010, at 6:54 AM, kevinwinterborne wrote:

    This game is horrible. The online game is laggy, rife with problems, delays, etc. I am going back to Battlefield Bad Company 2. I am taking MOH back to Gamestop. Its a turkey shoot. Can't break out and get more than one kill at a time. Too confined, and I can be pumping 10 rounds into a guy and he turns and takes one shot from an AK and I'm dead, he goes on. I'm using an M60. What a joke. THis is the last straw. I know Battlefield is an EA game and it had its own problems, especially with online gaming. I've been playing it for a while and these two games ruined my opinion of this company. I really will not buy anything from them. THey have no customer dedication. They have our email addresses - so use them! When there are network problems, or problems and fixes to the games - contact us! OR how about putting the information in a scroll on the screen!

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2010, at 10:31 AM, Eeyore3061 wrote:

    With the recent exposure from an insider on the upper management issues at EA in general (and the Warhammer project specifically), how can EA stock be something you'd want to buy?

    If half of it holds water, if even a tenth is true, it paints a bad picture of the management structure and that greatly influences trusting the company to keep it together, stay afloat, and, you know, make money.

    BTW, the link in question that started the current ... questions:

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