In what seems like an age ago, EA committed itself to rebooting the Medal of Honor series of military themed first-person shooters after a few years of franchise dormancy. Medal of Honor ‘2010’ was met with a mixed critical response, but the commercial reception was very positive going on to sell over five million units.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter in 2012, however, faired less well in both regards, leading EA to decide to take the series out of the publisher’s annual ‘rotation’ to focus on its big war game franchise, Battlefield. What does this mean, and what is the future of Medal of Honor? Speaking to Rock, Paper Shotgun, EA’s chief creative director Rich Hilleman provided some answers.
The Answer Needs a Question, First
Is the shooter genre simply overcrowded and are gamers weary of military themed games what with Call of Duty and Battlefield already dominating the space? Hilleman doesn’t think so, saying:
“We don’t think its a genre problem. It’s an execution problem. We don’t think Medal of Honor’s performance speaks to any particular bias in that space against modern settings or World War II or any of that.”
Then what explanation does Hilleman have for the poorer than expected performance of Medal of Honor: Warfighter? He reckons EA and developer Danger Close simply “should’ve done better” with certain elements of the games.
Leading From the Front
“I think a key part of this is having the right amount of high-quality production talent,” Hilleman continued. “And we didn’t have the quality of leadership we needed to make [Medal of Honor] great. We just have to get the leadership aligned.
“We’re blessed to have more titles than we can do well today. That’s a good problem, frankly. In the long term, we have to make sure we don’t kill those products by trying to do them when we can’t do them well.”
Where Do We Go From Here?
Where does Medal of Honor fit into EA’s game line-up going forward? Here’s Hilleman again:
“What we think right now is that, for the next couple years, we can just have one great thing in that space. So we’re choosing for it to be Battlefield.” When we can expect the Medal of Honor series to return is anyone’s guess at the moment, but Hilleman is confident it will return, citing an example of how members of EA are always quick to fight for franchises they think are important:
“There’s always someone at EA who’s sticking up for any number of the properties we have,” Hilleman said “You know, I had somebody the other day say, ‘Come on, Mutant League Football. We gotta bring back Mutant League Football.’ So, to my mind, there’s always somebody at EA who loves a property. That property will come back when it’s time is right and there’s someone to carry it.”
Do you think this is the correct strategy? Should EA and Danger Close continue to try and improve the Medal of Honor formula for a release in 2014, say, or give the series a break and sew some really solid ideas together before trying again?
What did you think of the two most recent Medal of Honor games and do you think they have a place in the market with Battlefield and Call of Duty already providing wildly different ways of playing a military shooter?