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Doom III release date confusion reigns

July/August say US retailers, October says UK

The PC version of ID's long-awaited Doom III could be in US stores in August according to stateside retail sources, but their UK counterparts are being told 'October', as the wait for the hugely anticipated first person shooter continues.

A top UK retail source told Eurogamer this morning: "Activision is telling us Doom III will be an October release on PC and November on Xbox". Meanwhile US reports paint a different picture, suggesting the game will be released in late July/early August.

But this is unlikely, according to our source, who argued that Activision would be busy buying up window displays and gearing up its marketing push if the game was due out in August. "It's too big for them - Activision wouldn't just hush it up for the sake of it," the source said.

ID's worldwide publisher Activision has consistently remained resolutely tight-lipped about the subject, mainly thanks to ID's insistence on not making release date announcements until the game is finished, but the Texan developer will be more than aware that commercially it would be beneficial to get the game out of the door long before Christmas.

The chances are, though, it may well end up competing with Half-Life 2, which co-incidentally is nearing completion as well.

A late July/early August debut would make much more sense for ID and Activision, and if it has no choice but to release the game in the crowded Christmas market it could well suffer a major dent in its sales. A release sooner, rather than later can't be ruled out though; back at the Game Developer's Conference in March, ID boss John Carmack admitted the game was nearly done - as clear an indication as you're going to get from ID that it's in the final stages.

Those with long memories will recall the panicked launch of Quake III, which ended up launching on December 22nd 1999 - as late a release as there has ever been. Who's to say the same won't apply in Doom III's case, with its marketing efforts mobilised just prior to launch?

Vicarious Visions-coded Xbox version, meanwhile, has apparently been earmarked for a November release in the UK - but Activision will be all too aware that Halo 2's November 9th release date represents a massive commercial obstacle for Doom III - and practically every other Xbox title for that matter. Whether it can release the game any earlier remains to be seen.

We await an official response from Activision at the time of going to press, but traditionally the company refuses to comment on release date speculation.

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Kristan Reed

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Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.

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