Interplay in the red, concedes possible game delays

Game publisher's net revenues are down over $20 million in 2003. Its earnings report also admits the publisher's two biggest titles "may" be delayed.

Interplay quietly disclosed its earnings late last Friday, and with good reason. While its Q3 2003 loss wasn't much more than it suffered during Q3, 2002, $2.2 million vs. $1.8 million, the once-mighty developer-publisher's 2003 earnings to date are way down. For the nine months ending September 30, 2003, Interplay suffered a net loss of $2.0 million, compared with a net gain of $20.5 million for the same period last year.

Interplay's 2002 numbers were boosted primarily by the company's sale of studio Shiny Entertainment for $28.8 million. While this seemed like a wise decision at the time, it looked like bad business after the brisk sales of Shiny's Enter the Matrix movie-tie-in.

By platform, Interplay's revenues were 64 percent PC, 34 percent console, and 2 percent OEM, royalties, and licensing. Presumably, these percentages will change when Interplay's two highest-profile games, the console-only RPGs Baldur's Gate: Dark Allaince II and Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel are released. The pair were to be the cornerstones of Interplay's 2003 roster, but the company concedes in the report that they "may ship in January [2004] in some territories." The report claimed the delay would not affect Interplay's Q4 revenues "based on the terms of the recently reinstated distribution agreement with Vivendi [Universal Games]" and that the games' sales would be buoyed by software-hungry gamers who received consoles for Christmas.

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