Rumours that the launch of Microsoft's new Xbox games console would be delayed sent share prices tumbling last night, with Activision and THQ both shedding about 7% of their value and Interplay falling almost 8%. So far as we know the rumours are totally unsubstantiated, with Microsoft confirming that the Xbox is "still on track for a November 8 launch" in America and that they expect to sell upwards of 600,000 consoles by the end of the year.
Some analysts suggested that the rumoured delay could in fact be referring to the Japanese launch of the Xbox, something which has come up before. But given that a delay in the Japanese launch would leave more units and resources for Europe and America, and that some of the publishers whose share prices dropped sharply yesterday aren't even distributing their Xbox titles in Japan, that doesn't make much sense. Indeed, one analyst at UBS Warburg commented that the whole thing was "kind of silly". Which pretty much sums up the stock market when it comes to computer games companies. More evidence that traders just don't understand our industry?