EA hasn't been mincing its words on this one – the plan with the forthcoming Battlefield 3 is to knock Activision's Call of Duty franchise off its lofty perch at the top of the FPS tree.

That's an ambitious goal given Black Ops record-breaking sales figures, but EA's marketing chief has explained how the publisher intends to go about it.

Aside from hoping developer DICE makes a great game, it seems there are three prongs to EA's marketing masterplan, according to an IndustryGamers interview with senior exec Lincoln Hirshberger.

First up, it's hoping to get the launch timing just right this time out, admitting it botched the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 release.

"With Battlefield 3, we believe that we have superior technology and gameplay," he explained. "We just need for everyone else in the mainstream to know that too.

"Last year, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 earned better scores than the competition but, because Battlefield released in March, a lot of the mainstream holiday hit buyers just weren't aware that Battlefield was the better game.

"This year, we're playing offense by launching Battlefield 3 in the holiday and we're starting to get the word out early by kicking off our campaign to the mass market."

Secondly, EA hopes social networks will play a big role in bringing in the punters.

"Another key part of our strategy has been to fan the flames and create a network effect with the Battlefield community. The power of social networks is amazing and fun to watch. The TV campaign has jumped-started that effort by enlisting a lot of new FPS fans looking for something new and better."

Hirshberger added that a new Facebook tool that lets users unlock special content has made a great start, more than doubling the Battlefield Facebook community from 400,000 to 900,000 in a single week.

The final part of the plan discussed was introducing a bevy of new online features to the series.

"We're building an online destination that will not only unify the Battlefield brands, but create a more immersive social network experience for Battlefield players.

"Whether you're interested in the Play 4 Free type experience or full on HD console & PC gameplay, we're investing in a Battlefield portal to ensure FPS fans find what they're looking for."

All this is going to be expensive – earlier this year EA CEO John Riccitiello predicted that between them, Activision and EA would be shelling out "a couple of hundred million dollars" on marketing.

Both Battlefield 3 and the as yet unannounced new Call of Duty title are expected to launch in late 2011.

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Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton

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Fred Dutton is Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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