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Atari talks up Matrix titles as figures disappoint

Publisher Atari has indicated that an announcement about future Matrix titles will be forthcoming in the next few weeks, as the company's first quarter results revealed major declines in revenue and profits.

Publisher Atari has indicated that an announcement about future Matrix titles will be forthcoming in the next few weeks, as the company's first quarter results revealed major declines in revenue and profits.

Revenues for the three months to June slid to $110.3 million, from $151.4 million in the same period last year, while profits were almost halved - dropping from $23.8 million last year to only $12.1 million.

Atari claims that the decline in the figures is largely down to the strength of the company's performance in the first quarter of 2003, which saw the launch of Enter The Matrix, and points to strong performance from Driv3r, Transformers, Duel Masters: Sempai Legends and Shadow Ops: Red Mercury in the current quarter.

Driv3r in particular has now sold through fifty per cent of its shipments, according to Atari CEO Bruno Bonnell - although it's not clear what shipment volumes he means. The company shipped 2.5 million units of the title at launch; if only 1.25 million units have been sold through, it seems likely that Atari will take a serious loss on Driv3r overall.

Atari was also hit this week by the news that the firm has lost the Unreal franchise to rival publisher Midway. Commenting on the deal, Bonnell said that "the proposal offered to [Atari] was not acceptable from a profit perspective," confirming speculation that the split between Epic and Atari came over financial terms for the games.

As one franchise exits, however, another enters, and Bonnell hinted strongly that Atari will be making an announcement about new games based on the Matrix license - for which the company still has two game rights to exercise - in the "next, short, coming weeks." This mirrors comments made by an agent of the Matrix' creators, Larry and Andy Wachowski, who said in the Wall Street Journal this week that a new Matrix title on Xbox was coming in 2005.

In terms of the firm's projections for the coming months, Atari expects a loss of $19 million for the quarter leading through to September 30th, although some revenue growth is anticipated. The third quarter will be the company's busiest, with new Dragon Ball Z and Duel Masters titles due, along with Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 and Sid Meier's Pirates.

For the full year, Atari currently expects profits of $25 to $30 million on revenues of $470 million.

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Rob Fahey avatar

Rob Fahey

Contributing Editor

Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.

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