Battlefield 3 (EA)For the past few months, the war of words between Activision and Electronic Arts over their respective modern military shooters has been intense, to say the least. EA has been eager to unseat Call of Duty from its king-of-the-hill spot and hasn't shied away from trash talking to do so.
On Tuesday, the company's best bet to accomplish this — Battlefield 3 — will hit store shelves. And while EA's marketing machine is about to go into overdrive, analysts say the fight may be over before it starts.
Modern Warfare 3, due out Nov. 8, will sell twice as many units as Battlefield 3 this year, predicts Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities. He also believes it will likely set entertainment opening weekend records for the third year in a row.
The good news for EA? While that might sound like a walloping, both companies are positioned to be big winners. Pachter says he expects the latest Modern Warfare to sell 16 million units by the end of the fourth quarter (and another 8 million next year). Battlefield, he says, should sell about 8 million this year and another 2 million in 2012.
"I'd guess that around half of the console copies of Battlefield 3 will be bought by people who also buy Modern Warfare 3, so around 2 to 3 million will buy both," he said. "I don't see much cannibalization of the titles."
Other analysts are a bit more optimistic about Battlefield 3's sales numbers. Eric Handler of MKM Partners recently upped his 2011 projections of the game to 8.5 million.
Together, the two titles could generate 15 percent of the total brick and mortar game sales between October and December, bringing in over $1.4 billion, a staggering sum.
Still, Battlefield 3 isn't without its problems. EA let certain outlets review the PC version of the game, but no console reviews will be out until it lands on store shelves — and that has some gamers nervous. The company has further confirmed reports that Xbox 360 players who want to experience the game at its graphical best will need to install an HD "texture pack," which gobbles up 2 GB of their system's hard drive.
If you choose not to, beware. The game you play won't look at all like what you've seen in the eye-popping commercials.