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Tomb Raider release slips - again

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Game publisher Eidos has been forced to hold back the European release of the next game in the hugely popular Tomb Raider series, Angel of Darkness. The news has prompted a ten per cent drop in the company's share price.

Gamers are unlikely to be too miffed that the game will ship a week late, taking it into July rather than June, but the City is very concerned. By shipping AoD this month, Eidos would have been able to include sales in its current financial year's figures. The result: the company's pre-tax profits will take a hit.

Eidos' fiscal year ends on 30 June. "While some units may ship within the current financial year, up to one million units will ship in July, the first month of the next financial year," the company admitted in a statement.

"This has led the Board to significantly reduce its expectations for profit before tax for the financial year," it added.

Eidos won't say what it expected to earn during 2003, or what it now believes its income will total. Its 2003 results will be announced on 4 September. Analysts were expecting sales of $283-300 million, Reuters reports. Eidos is expect to ship 1.5-2.0 million units, so at between a half and two-thirds of the game's sales will not now be included in the company's 2003 figures. And Eidos has already begun spending its £2 million UK marketing budget and its €6 million European marketing allocation.

The units that will ship in June are destined for the US PlayStation 2 market. US European PC versions will ship next week, Eidos said. It will not say when it will ship the PS2 version in Europe, but it blamed the delay on last-minute checks by Sony.

AoD has already been delayed twice, first from its November 2002 launch date to February, and then to June.

This time Eidos only has itself to blame, chosing to release the game so close to the end of its fiscal year. Games are frequently delayed, and while it might seem like bad luck that AoD has only just slipped past the end of Eidos' fiscal 2003, perhaps it should have considered the possibility earlier this year when it set the end-of-June release date. ®

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