In just a matter of weeks a major, epic confrontation between good and evil will be waged across modern battlefields and war-torn cities. In a few weeks, Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 will be released.
With over $1 million in marketing behind each title, Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 3 and Activision’s Modern Warfare 3 battle for the throne of shooters and retail shelves. While both are expected to be blockbusters, only one can be the king of shooters.
IGN asked some of the industry’s top analysts to weigh in on this clash of the titans. It’s war of the joystick guns.
The NPD Group said that life-to-date new physical sales of Call of Duty tops 60 million units in the US, while Battlefield 10 million.
Anita Frazer, the indrusty analysist for the NPD Group said Battlefield is a more heavily PC-driven franchise with nearly half of life-to-date sales being on the PC platform, whereas Call of Duty is console-driven.
While Call of Duty is clearly larger, I do believe we could see bigger Battlefield sales if we included digitally acquired content.
Looking to the sales of both games, analysts have big projections for both titles. According to Billy Pidgeon, analyst at M2 Research, Battlefield 3 could sell over 10 million copies this year and likely another 5 to 8 million in 2012.
Battlefield 3 plays particularly well on PC, and this will boost sales in other regions outside the U.S. where console penetration is relatively low.
Pidgeon forecasts gamers will pick up 15 million copies of Modern Warfare 3 this year with late comers at 5-10 million next year.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will likely perform more strongly than Battlefield 3 on consoles, and although it will sell on PC, I expect Battlefield 3 to do better on PC.
Michael Pachter, a video game analyst at Morgan Wedbush Securities predicts MW3 will sell 16 million copies this year and 9 million next year, similar to last year’s Black Ops sales.
For Battlefield 3, he believes it would sell 8 million copies this year and 2 million in 2012, but a solid, let’s say 4-5/5 or 8-10/10 rating would boost that.
I believe that Call of Duty will outsell Battlefield 3 by 2 to 1, which I have no doubt is a number that both companies will be happy with.
We know that Call of Duty has the potential to hit as high as 25 million units this holiday season, if Battlefield 3 obtains half of that, I am sure Electronic Arts will be satisfied.
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Even though EA’s hit game will hit a few weeks earlier than Activision’s blockbuster, analysts believe the two “3s” will hurt each other’s sales. Pidgeon believes there will be a fair amount of overlapping with over half of gamers buying both games, which is actually a good choice to me.
Both should sell strongly and I don’t expect much cannibalization of initial sales.
The competition for online, however, will be very strong, and although there will be players who prefer one to the other and will be less likely to switch, many online players will migrate between the two games. This will be important for sales of game add-ons.
Michael Pachter said:
My best guess is that 80% of Call of Duty players are in it for the multiplayer, so I don’t see many of them defecting.
It’s only the 20% who are up for grabs, and I think that for every Call of Duty player who defects to BF, there will be another new Call of Duty player born.
Ted Pollak, a video game analyst from Jon Peddie Research said:
Battlefield 3 is more focused on vehicle integration.
Hardcore multiplayer PC gamers, who are actually a growing market, are very bullish on Battlefield 3 and are becoming disenchanted with the Call of Duty franchise as it seems to cater more to the console crowd. However, the Call of Duty franchise has always had excellent single player content, which will give it an edge.
While EA and Activision will benefit (heavily) on these blockbusters, the entire game industry may suffer. Where’s that smiley again? Oh, there it is.
John Taylor from Aradia Research believe these two mega-blockbuster-games will cannibalize the sales of other games this upcoming Christmas holiday season.
They will take all the air out of the room, except for Batman, Skyrim and maybe Assassin’s Creed Revelations.
One retailer offered about 160 properties last year from October to December, but this year they are cutting that back to about 90. Retailers are showing real caution on all but the five ‘sure bets’. Even Gears of War 3 sales disappointed at least one major retailer.
Pachter believes BF3 and MW3 combined will be 24 million units this year, over $1.4b in sales. That would be 15% of all packaged games within this year’s final quarter.
Pollak believes the game industry would benefit from these two games driving sales for both consoles and the PC.
Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 will help sales of Xbox 360s and PS3s.
More importantly, and rarely covered by the press, Battlefield 3 is driving upwards of a billion dollars in PC builds and upgrades this year alone. No other title since Crytek’s Crysis had such an anticipatory impact on PC hardware sales.
But nothing really is sure. Maybe Battlefield 3 will outsell Modern Warfare 3. Maybe they will be equal. Maybe they will kill the game industry (Smiley, please.). Maybe it would boost sales of consoles and PCs.
Only time will tell. And epicness. That counts, too.