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Tomb Raider developer chief quits Eidos board

Heath-Smith, heave-ho

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Games publisher Eidos today announced the immediate departure of Jeremy Heath-Smith from the company's board. Heath-Smith has also stepped down from Core Design's board.

Core Design developed the Tomb Raider series of games, which were published by Eidos. Heath-Smith's role as both Eidos' Global Head of Development and Core's Managing Director is a sign of how intertwined the two companies' fortunes have become as Lara Croft's adventures have propelled both to great success. Indeed, Core is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Eidos.

Image copyright Eidos

Heath-Smith founded Core back in 1988. In 1994, it was taken over by CentreGold, which in turn was bought by Eidos in 1996.

Given how central Core has been to the Eidos story, how can we explain the sudden departure? No reason was given for Heath-Smith's move in the official announcement, and Eidos would not comment any further, referring us back to the terse press release.

Many observers will conclude that the move was forced upon him. A few weeks back, Eidos admitted that last-minute delays to the release of the latest release in the Tomb Raider series, Angel of Darkness, would mean that a significant percentage of the titles sales would have to be included in the company's results for fiscal 2004, not fiscal 2003, which ended on 30 June. The profit warning prompted a ten per cent dip in Eidos' shares.

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

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. It's hard to imagine shareholders not demanding the head of someone for the income shortfall. ®

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