Analyst predicts EA's 'Battlefield V' will be a 'serious disappointment,' says preorders lag 'Call of Duty' by more than 85%

Source: EA
A scene from Battlefield V

EA's most important nonsports game for this holiday season is struggling, according to Cowen.

The firm reiterated its market perform rating for Electronic Arts shares, citing weak preorders for the publisher's "Battlefield V" title.

"EA's Battlefield V currently appears to potentially be headed for serious disappointment," analyst Doug Creutz said in a note on Monday. It is lagging far behind "Call of Duty," "Red Dead Redemption 2" and "Assassin's Creed," he added, and by slightly more than it was two weeks ago in the case of the first two.

"If we had to pick one game to be a casualty of the crowded October window, this would clearly be it."

EA shares declined 0.2 percent Monday after the report.

Creutz reaffirmed his $114 price target for EA shares, representing 11 percent downside to Friday's close.

"Battlefield V" is slated to be released on Oct. 19 between the launch dates of Oct. 12 for Activision's "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4" and Oct. 26 for Take-Two's "Red Dead Redemption 2."

The analyst said preorders for "Battlefield V" are tracking more than 85 percent behind "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4," which is substantially worse than previous instances. "Battlefield 3" and "Battlefield 4" titles lagged "Call of Duty" by about 20 percent to 40 percent and "Battlefield 1" actually tracked ahead of "Call of Duty" at this point before launch.

"This is very far off the tracking levels of previous Battlefield titles in 2011, 2013, and 2016," he said. "With a release date directly in between CoD and RDR, we worry that BFV could be headed for a similar fate as 2016's Titanfall 2, which got squeezed out by its launch date directly between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare."

The analyst said the 13 million to 14 million unit sales, which he estimates is factored into EA's guidance for the title, is not looking achievable.

"This suggests a meaningful risk factor to EA's FY19 guidance," he said.

EA declined to comment on the Cowen analyst report.

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