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EA's Gibeau: Over-Annualization, Lack Of Innovation Led To Medal Of Honor's Downfall

Yearly game entries and subsequent lack of innovation are what led to the Medal of Honor franchise's decline, EA Games' Frank Gibeau tells Gamasutra -- explaining

Kris Graft, Contributor

May 4, 2010

3 Min Read

Electronic Arts' Medal of Honor franchise, which debuted in 1999, used to be among the most commercially successful first-person shooter properties, but along the way something happened. Other studios began making FPS games that not only built upon the cinematic influence that Medal of Honor became known for, but also added online multiplayer components that left EA's franchise behind, both critically and commercially. "With Medal of Honor, we're rebooting the series to get into the top 10," EA Games label president Frank Gibeau said in a new Gamasutra feature. The new Medal of Honor, set in modern day Afghanistan, is due this year and is under development at EA LA, with multiplayer handled by Battlefield developer EA DICE. "I was not satisfied with the sales of Airborne [2008's last major Medal of Honor installment], and it was a project that I inherited when I came into this label, and at the very last minute," he said. "We basically had a month on it. So I looked at the future of what I wanted to build inside of the Games label, and we want to be the worldwide leaders in the shooter category, full stop." Gibeau continued, "I think any franchise that's been around for a long time, they get in a rut, they become over-annualized. They run out of innovation. The team pounds on a game every year, and they get tired, they run out of time and effort to be innovative and try and take some new risks. That was my view on how the franchise has fallen." "I also felt like the online component wasn't getting enough attention," which was the main reason that the publisher gave online duties to multiplayer shooter experts EA DICE, said Gibeau. He added, "Any shooter worth its salt is going to be really breakthrough in its online play, and I think Battlefield: Bad Company is a good example of that, I think Modern Warfare 2 is a good example of that, I think Halo clearly is a good example of that. The power of a franchise in the shooter category is in the online component and modes." "The DICE guys, the Battlefield 1943 team were able to partner with our LA squad and they're doing some pretty remarkable stuff online for MOH that you guys will find out more about this summer," said Gibeau. The upcoming Medal of Honor is set in the Afghanistan of current times, with a storyline inspired by the real conflict in the region today. Up until now, the franchise was a World War II shooter series. Gibeau hopes that EA LA, which is currently polishing the game, took the necessary steps to bring the franchise back to its former glory by appealing first to the core market. "I've always had a philosophy in the games business that you have to win the core first," he said. "You have to be seen as quality, legitimate, and relevant for gamers, then you build out from there, and that's where you pick up the mass market." For more from Gibeau as well as the creative leads of the upcoming Medal of Honor, read the full Gamasutra feature, available today.

About the Author(s)

Kris Graft


Kris Graft is publisher at Game Developer.

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