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.

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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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