Though it helped put military multiplayer first-person shooters on the map, Electronic Arts' Battlefield franchise has seen itself outsold by the Call of Duty series in recent years. Granted, 2005's Battlefield 2 was a hit--selling more than 1 million units in the US, according to the NPD Group--as was its console spin-off, Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, which sold 1.2 million units domestically on the Xbox 360, Xbox, and PlayStation 2. However, 2007's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the overall best-selling game of 2007 and has sold more than 8 million units domestically (according to NPD) and more than 15 million units worldwide (according to Activision).
Now, with the release of archrival Activision's Modern Warfare 2--developed by former EA employees at Infinity Ward--looming, EA is planning a comeback in the military shooter sector. Speaking at the William Blair & Company investor conference this week, EA COO John Pleasants revealed that, in addition to this year's sequel to the critically lauded, multiplatinum Battlefield: Bad Company, EA is planning a new installment in its core Battlefield franchise.
"We have a lot of IP in that [shooter] area, and we have not not noticed that Call of Duty has a significant share of that business," Pleasants told analysts during a question-and-answer session. "We are putting a real concentrated effort behind those titles. Battlefield happens to be one of them. ... I've had the luxury of looking at Battlefield 3 over at DICE over in Sweden. I was highly impressed by the way the people were working on that product. That's not for this fiscal year [ending March 31, 2010], but that is a product that is looking very good."
After saying that work on the download-only Battlefield 1943 (due in September) has been "going well," he said the Battlefield franchise is "strengthening and moving to a service model, and it has multiple titles within it which we can lever off of, so I am bullish on the Battlefield franchise, but it's not our only title which we are hoping to gain share with in the shooter category." He offered the forthcoming third-person shooter Army of Two: The 40th Day as another title that would court shooter fans.