The Godfather slips

Quality issues hold it back.

Leading publisher Electronic Arts has revealed that The Godfather, seen as its headline M-rated title for the holiday season, has slipped into next year - leading analysts to reduce their full-year estimates for the company's performance.

In an official statement released this week, EA said that the game would now be released on current-generation platforms in its fourth fiscal quarter - which runs from January 1st, 2006 through to March 31st - with the next-generation versions to follow in fiscal 2007.

Commenting on the reasons for the delay, executive producer David DeMartini of the EA Los Angeles said that "The Godfather is one of the most cherished franchises in entertainment... Releasing the game in early 2006 allows us more time to perfect the open-world experience of being a member of the Corleone family."

However, Banc of America Securities analyst Gary Cooper sees the delay as evidence of continuing "issues" for EA's development process.

"Our original expectations for this title were below that of the company," he said in a research note today. "However, the shift in release date from the holiday selling season to 4Q06 will result in at least 30 per cent fewer sales for this game... We have reduced our FY06 total revenue estimate by nearly $50 million and $0.04 to reflect the less attractive launch window after the holiday for The Godfather."

Cooper commented that it was unlikely that EA would pull its key Q406 title, Criterion's new FPS franchise Black, into Q306 to compensate for the slippage - not least because Black is highly unlikely to be finished in time for such a move.

The Godfather hit the headlines earlier this week when it emerged that the much-vaunted new performance by the late Marlon Brando for the part of Don Vito Corleone might not be used in the game after all, since the actor's poor state of health had marred the quality of the recordings.

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