Call of Duty Creators’ New Game Looks Like a Misfire for EAby
Analyst cuts Titanfall forecast, citing crowded marketplace
Developers West, Zampella battle their own first-shooter hit
The video-game designers who gave birth to the hit Call of Duty franchise are finding it’s hard to outgun their own creation.
Titanfall 2, released Friday, was designed by Jason West and Vince Zampella, who developed Call of Duty for Activision Blizzard Inc. Sales of the new title fell short of one analyst’s forecast, in part because of competition from Call of Duty. That sent shares of Electronic Arts Inc., which released Titanfall 2, to their biggest loss in almost nine months.
Doug Creutz, an analyst at Cowen & Co., cut his sales forecast for the new Titanfall by a third to six million units, based on tracking of purchases at Amazon.com Inc. The projection suggests that in video games, like Hollywood, it’s tough to repeat past hits, particularly in a crowded market.
Electronic Arts “appears to have wound up shooting its own foot off,” Creutz wrote in a note Friday.
Electronic Arts, based in Redwood City, California, fell 4 percent to $79.45 at the close in New York. The stock was up 20 percent this year through Thursday. Activision, based in Santa Monica, California, fell less than 1 percent to $43.32.
Creutz lowered his rating on Electronic Arts to market perform from buy and cut his target price for the shares to $82 from $96.
Although Titanfall 2 scored with critics, Electronic Arts may have erred by releasing the first-person shooter game so close to a new Call of Duty due out Nov. 4 and Battlefield 1, another Electronic Arts title that was released last week, Creutz said. Call of Duty was the top-selling video game in the U.S. last year.
Dusty Welch, the chief operating officer of West and Zampella’s design studio, Respawn Entertainment, said he was pleased with the release.
“The team here at Respawn poured their hearts into this game, and we’re happy to see that hard work pay off not only through overwhelmingly positive reviews, but also by the response from our fans,” he said in an e-mailed statement.
Titanfall 2 features mechanized titans fighting in a futuristic world. Unlike the previous title in the series, Titanfall 2 is available for Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 4 console as well as for Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox One. It’s also available for the first time a single player game.
West and Zampella were fired by Activision in 2010. They later sued for past-due royalties in a case that was settled out of court. Their first title in their new series, 2014’s Titanfall, was a hit for Electronic Arts.
John Reseburg, a spokesman for Electronic Arts, declined to comment on the forecast, citing the quiet period companies typically adhere to before releasing earnings. Electronic Arts is scheduled to report fiscal second-quarter results on Nov. 1.