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Splinter Cell delayed until 2009/10

No earlier than April, says Ubisoft.

The next instalment in the Splinter Cell series won't be released until April next year at the earliest, Ubisoft has told investors.

Announcing the firm's Q1 2008/09 sales, the publisher said, "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, whose release was previously scheduled for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008-09, will now bolster the line-up for fiscal 2009-10."

That's between 1st April 2009 and 31st March 2010 in old money. The game's due out on PC and Xbox 360.

(Update, 5.53pm: In a conference call following the announcement, Ubisoft bigwig Yves Guillemot added: "Splinter Cell is a very important franchise for Ubisoft and we have high anticipation for this game. It is a major product and we want it to be able to catch all the gameplay opportunities it is offering to us today. There are lots of opportunities that we want to take and so that is why we can give [them] a little bit more time to make sure it can become a huge product.")

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction was demoed at UbiDays in Paris in May 2007, and attracted criticism after the developers said they were reducing the range of controls in favour of context-sensitive actions that would depend on protagonist Sam Fisher's situation.

We previewed it at the time and noted, "A bit like Sam, the present public reaction suggests it'll be guilty until proven innocent." We're so funny. No wonder we live in cheap flats and eat microwave chips.

Earlier this year, reports surfaced that Conviction was being completely redesigned, but Ubisoft claimed it was "pure speculation". Perhaps not, if the delay is anything to go by. Speaking to Eurogamer at this year's UbiDays a couple of months ago, global development boss Christine Burgess-Overmard said the game would be released "when it's ready".

Elsewhere in the report, Ubisoft reiterates that Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway will be released in the current fiscal quarter, which means sometime between now and the end of September.