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The heat is on for the video game Christmas No.1 as ELSPA and Ladbrokes announce the main contenders

Monday 15 November 2004/... Heralding what is surely the official start of the festive season, ELSPA (Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association) has announced today the main contenders for the much coveted "Official Computer and Video Games Christmas Number One." Once again, the odds for this year's dead certs and complete outsiders have been compiled in collaboration with Ladbrokes, the UK's favourite bookmaker. Whilst any contest for such a prestigious title will be always be contended with passion, fervour and undoubted good spirit, 2004 is expected to be fiercer than ever before as the games industry gears up and braces itself to make record-breaking sales this festive season.

This year's runners include well-known sequels to evergreen and ever-growing blockbuster franchises such as EA's Need for Speed and GoldenEye and Sony's The Getaway: Black Monday as well as several exciting new titles such as Activision's Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Also listed is GTA: San Andreas from UK developer Rockstar North, which smashed UK records as the fastest selling game of all time. The 2004 Christmas line-up is one that caters for all tastes, genders and age groups with Sony's Singstar: Party and EA's The Urbz likely to appeal to a wide target in the quest for truly mass-market offerings.

The year's hopefuls, compiled by Ladbrokes in association with ELSPA contains, among others, the following titles:

4/1 (joint favourite) - Call of Duty: Finest Hour

4/1 (joint favourite) - GoldenEye: Rogue Agent

7/1 - GTA: San Andreas

7/1 - Need For Speed: Underground 2

8/1 - Halo 2

10/1 - FIFA 2005

10/1 - Burnout 3: Takedown

10/1 - The Getaway: Black Monday

12/1 - Tony Hawk: Underground 2

16/1 - Half Life 2

20/1 - Pro Evolution Soccer 4

20/1 - WWE: Smackdown vs Raw

25/1 - SingStar: Party

25/1 - Prince of Persia: The Warrior Within

33/1 - Star Wars: Battlefront

33/1 - Lord of the Rings: The Third Age

33/1 - The Urbz

33/1 - Mortal Kombat: Deception

33/1 - Fight Club

50/1 - Miami Vice

50/1 - Football Manager 2005

50/1 - Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

50/1 - Ratchet and Clank 3

"This year promises to be incredibly exciting with many titles in real contention for the No.1 slot," commented Roger Bennett, director general of ELSPA. "But it also looks certain that record books will need to be re-written once again as all the expectations are that the industry will enjoy a truly bumper festive season. Projected revenues for the period firmly establish video games above both music and film, putting games and consoles at the top of Christmas wish lists up and down the country. The UK industry should be especially proud of its achievements as homegrown British-developed software will account for much of this season's revenues."

David McMorrow, Ladbrokes Marketing Manager said: " We are absolutely thrilled to be associated once again with ELSPA and the official computer and video game number one. Last year's winner took some people by surprise and it was not even considered a dead cert or even a favorite early on. This year, with such a hotly contested leader board already, and the potential for outsiders to break ahead of the pack, it really is all to play for. Industry pundits may wish to add a crystal ball to their wish lists!"

Prices correct at time of writing and subject to change.

Ladbrokes Rules apply.

Combined multi-format sales will count in the week running up to Christmas.

Ladbrokes will take the final result from ELSPA/ChartTrack.

These prices will be available shortly through Ladbrokes shops, over the phone and at www.ladbrokes.com


About ELSPA - http://www.elspa.com

ELSPA (The Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association) was founded in 1989 to establish a specific and collective identity for the computer and video games industry. Membership includes almost all companies concerned with the publishing and distribution of interactive leisure software in the UK.

ELSPA's activities include: Official Chart and Industry Reports, Anti-Piracy UK and EU, PR and Communication, Events. More information on all these activities can be found at http://www.elspa.com.

The UK Interactive Leisure Software Industry - Facts & Figures from ELSPA/Screen Digest/Chart-Track:

- The UK is a world centre for games development.

- In 2003, UK sales of video games, other leisure software products and games consoles topped £2 billion, for the second year running.

- Over 20,000 people are employed in the UK leisure software sector.

- The British games industry generated £494m of exports in 2003. 33% of all PS2 games bought in Europe originate in the UK (the same proportion as US originated products and ahead of Japan and any other country).

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