EA: ‘Medal of Honor’ Not Dead; ‘We Should Have Done Better’

Scorned and now shelved, EA’s Medal of Honor franchise garnered nothing but Purple Hearts during its contemporary-reboot attempt. Transitioning the series from the second World War to the Global War on Terror, 2010’s Medal of Honor and 2012’s Medal of Honor: Warfighter both released to paltry reviews and sales. The former forced EA to admit that it “didn’t meet” the publisher’s standard for quality; the latter forced them to pull the series “out of the rotation” altogether.

The reason for its failure, as we’ve established before, is quite simple: Medal of Honor was an exercise in counterintuity. EA created a hopelessly inferior competitor to its own flagship shooter, Battlefield 3, using the same engine, the same time period and less resources to produce two uninspired single-player campaigns and multiplayer that felt like a recycled oddment of its larger cousin. Tier One-operative protagonists, Bin Laden-killing development consultants, Linkin Park — they were never enough for distinguishing the franchise by its own merits.

Despite its troubles, however, EA isn’t ready to completely abandon Medal of Honor just yet. Speaking in a recent postmortem interview with Rock, Paper Shotgun, EA chief creative director Rich Hilleman asserted that, despite January’s decommissioning, Medal of Honor is still a viable franchise for the publisher going forward… it just has a number of, shall we say severe, challenges to overcome.

Medal of Honor Not Dead

Starting with the publisher itself. The current state of the series isn’t a referendum on modern military shooters, Hilleman’s says, but rather a result of EA’s failed execution:

“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. It’s much more that we had some things we should’ve done better.”

According to Hilleman, EA has come to the realization that developing two distinct but similarly appealing shooter brands side-by-side just isn’t sustainable:

“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.”

As resources became diluted, so did the talent pool. And Medal of Honor never acquired the right leadership to deliver on its full potential:

“I think a key part of this is having the right amount of high-quality production talent., 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.”

Rock, Paper Shotgun proceeded to state that Hilleman is certain Medal of Honor will return — only he’s not sure when the time will be right. Removed from the release rotation of Battlefield — call it an EA vacuum where production time, available talent and resources are, indeed, copious commodities — there’s no question of the potential, not to mention prestige, that MoH brings to the table. Imagining a world where Electronic Arts isn’t devoutly committed its Call of Duty (attempted) killer, however, is a greater stretch. With Battlefield 3’s End Game DLC keeping the game relevant well beyond its October 2011 release (Warfighter, by comparison, has already been written off) and Battlefield 4 anticipated for this Fall, possibly as the series’s next-gen entry point, we’re guessing it’s a long winter before Medal of Honor is done hibernating.

Ranters, do you see an extant future for the Medal of Honor franchise? Is there anywhere EA can take a reboot (Version 3!) that doesn’t interfere with the bigger and better Battlefield?

Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.

Source: Rock, Paper Shotgun

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