In the last several weeks there’s been a slight shift in attention away from the upcoming Medal of Honor: Warfighter and to what will come to players who pre-order the game: next year’s Battlefield 4. The pre-order incentive offers beta access for BF4, quite a while before it comes out and during a period where DLC and updates are still on the way for Battlefield 3.

So why are we talking about Battlefield 4 when Battlefield 3 has only just reached a state that the game arguably should have been at launch and when its DLC plans are only just beginning to roll out? It’s because Medal of Honor: Warfighter might be in trouble.

The 2010 reboot of Medal of Honor was an average game that failed to deliver memorable characters or a multiplayer experience worth playing over the competition. The following year, Battlefield 3 released (too quickly) and made up for the multiplayer, but still suffered on the campaign and co-op fronts. Players play Battlefield and the new Medal of Honor for the multiplayer experience. That’s where the DLC is focused and that’s where the replayability lays.

So, when Medal of Honor 2 was announced (oddly subtitled “Warfighter”), we wondered ‘why.’ Why is EA releasing a shooter so soon after Battlefield 3 when that game launched with a severe need for updates and additional content – of which the game only recently began to receive? Is Warfighter going to compete against Battlefield 3 (and its upcoming DLC) using the same game engine? After the lack of positive buzz following Medal of Honor, its followup is starting on the wrong foot for two reasons, and it’s not helping that the forecast for its sales was just reduced significantly as a result.

After Medal of Honor: Warfighter sales estimates from Cowen analyst Doug Creutz were reduced from 2.3 million units on PS3/Xbox 360 to 1.4 million this morning, Electronic Arts’ stock prices fell slightly. Why the negative outlook? According to Creutz:

“This is based on a very soft performance since E3 in Amazon’s top-selling game rankings compared to other recent titles. We think the most likely culprit for apparent gamer disinterest is the poor quality of the last ‘Medal of Honor’ game in 2010.”

EA’s overly obvious attempt at replicating the development and release model Activision employs with Call of Duty may not work out to their benefit this fall as Medal of Honor: Warfighter will cannibalize the active playerbase from a game they promise to continue supporting up to and beyond Battlefield 4 next year. Would it have made more sense to have Danger Close Games work on additional campaign and/or multiplayer content for Battlefield 3? If you are BF3 player, will you drop that in favor of MOH: Warfighter? Unfortunately, the lower stock prices resulting from this statement are enacting a self-fulfilling prophecy by potentially generating more disinterest.

As a Battlefield 3 PC player myself, the Medal of Honor: Warfighter multiplayer looks pretty but it’s not a step above from Battlefield 3 which offers larger maps with more players and loads of vehicles. With the Close Quarters DLC coming out last month, it also has infantry-focused Frostbite 2-powered modern combat as well. So, to recap, same game engine, both modern combat, both at the same time. Here are the five things we want from Medal of Honor: Warfighter that could help its appeal.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter releases October 23, 2012 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Cowen (via Forbes)