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Eidos misses the gravy train

Poor start to 2001 for British publisher

Eidos seems to have got off to a poor start this year, with revenues plumetting by almost 50% to £23m for the first three months of 2001 according to Bloomberg, leading to losses of £29m compared to a profit of £37m in the same period last year. Results for their full financial year (which ended on March 31st) were just as worrying - turnover was down from £200m to £150m, with losses of £96m compared to a profit of £49m the previous year. All this despite the massive success of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, which topped the charts on PC, PlayStation and Dreamcast last October.

Eidos predictably blamed Sony's troubled PlayStation 2 launch for their problems, and despite several other big publishers posting record results in recent months, Eidos CEO Mike McGarvey says that he doesn't expect things to pick up until next year when the Xbox and GameCube arrive in Europe. In fact Eidos has been hit harder than most because of its decision to hold back the release of several key PlayStation 2 titles until the console has a wider installed base here in Europe, an odd decision given that many industry observers have suggested that it was a lack of killer games which was holding back sales of the console, putting Eidos in something of a chicken-and-egg situation. Whether this strategy will pay off in the long run remains to be seen, but it's certainly hurting them at the moment.

Other setbacks for the company include unplanned delays in the release of several key PC games, but with the arrival of Startopia next month and Commandos 2 this summer, their long dry spell may be about to end. They will also be hoping that the Tomb Raider movie will give Lara Croft a much-needed boost in the absence of a new Tomb Raider game this year, although the reception to director Simon West's cut of the movie at preview screenings was apparently so bad that two new editors have been brought in to salvage it before the film arrives in the USA on June 15th. One anonymous source described it as "virtually unwatchable and a sure bomb". Could Lara be about to follow in the footsteps of the Mario Brothers and Street Fighter? Let's hope not...

Looking ahead though, more Millionaire games are planned for Christmas, and the latest installment of Championship Manager will arrive like clockwork this autumn and undoubtedly ring up some serious sales as well. Then there's the flood of PlayStation 2 games we can look forward to when Eidos finally decide there are enough of the consoles out there, with titles like Project Eden, Herdy Gerdy and Deus Ex all expected this year. Don't count them out yet!

Source - FT MarketWatch / Bloomberg / Coming Soon