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Full year revenues drop sharply for Vivendi Games

Media conglomerate Vivendi Universal has announced its revenue figures for the fourth quarter and full year of 2003, revealing that the company's videogames division suffered a 28 per cent drop in revenues during the year.

Media conglomerate Vivendi Universal has announced its revenue figures for the fourth quarter and full year of 2003, revealing that the company's videogames division suffered a 28 per cent drop in revenues during the year.

Full year revenues at the division were â'¬571 million, while the fourth quarter - traditionally the most important of the year for games companies - saw revenues of â'¬254 million, down 13 per cent from the same period in 2002.

The company had expected better sales during the holiday season, and its results certainly took a hit from the failure of Half-Life 2 to materialise during 2003, but overall it was simply a bad year for VU Games - with a fairly weak line-up of products, and constant speculation over the future of the division taking its toll.

Even now, it's not entirely clear what Vivendi plans to do with its game publishing business. The firm has abandoned plans to float it, and efforts at selling the division fell through some time ago - but with the sale of the majority of the company's other media assets to General Electric last year, VU Games doesn't really fit in with the rest of the company's portfolio any more.

Declining revenues and the ongoing exodus of key staff from star development studio Blizzard certainly won't help the company to secure a good price should it decide to put VU Games on the market again - but in the absence of a visible, solid future direction for the division, it's hard to see Vivendi holding on to it in the long term.

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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.