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Quarter 1 operating losses deepen by 61 per cent for Vivendi Universal Games

VU Games' improving market position hasn't helped the divisions' financial fortunes in the first quarter of FY 04/05 as its operating losses increase by almost 61 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Vivendi Universal Games' has reported an operating loss of 45 million Euros for the three months to March 31st 2004 - a 60.7 per cent increase in losses on the same period last year.

The French publisher had its best-ever year in the UK last year according to Chart-Track figures which placed the company as the No.3 publisher in the county during 2003 by units, and No.4 by value, but the start to 2004 has been a marked disappointment for the publisher, which today announced it has 13 game titles lined up for Christmas 2004.

The company behind such recent blockbusting hits as Simpsons Hit & Run and Crash Nitro Kart posted sales of 77 million Euros during Q1 2004, with an operating loss of 45 million Euros - a 60.7 per cent increase into the red on last year's equivalent figure of 28 million Euros.

The company says that Q1 2004 includes costs associated with cancelling titles and the hiring of a new management team. No titles were singled out in the report, but its packed pre Christmas schedule included a number of titles which did not make a commercial impact, including the critically acclaimed Metal Arms, as well the likes of SWAT.

The first quarter was unsually quiet for the company, with only the multi-format film licence tie-in The Cat In The Hat and the long delayed Counter-Strike Condition Zero being released in the entire period.

Q2 is also set to be another quiet period for the company in Europe, with Van Helsing the only title to have been released so far, although the US release of The Chronicles Of Riddick will boost matters, as will the release of Ground Control II and a brace of Crash and Sypro GBA titles.

The prospect of a 'summer' release of Half-Life 2, however, will put an entirely different complexion on the company's finances, however, and if Valve come good on its promises to ship its long-awaited first person shooter soon, Vivendi can look forward to a promising second half of the year.

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Kristan Reed avatar
Kristan Reed: 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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