SCi Entertainment waits on Lara Croft to boost morale

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The group blamed rising costs of production and promotion for the poor results, but insisted it was on track to achieve profit targets for the full year, with seven new games titles due for release in the second half of the year.

Next week sees the launch of the largest of these, Tomb Raider: Legend. SCi said it hopes the game will achieve the same success as the previous Tomb Raider titles, which have generated sales of more than £28m. The company acquired Eidos, the franchise that produces the Tomb Raider series, in May for £100m.

Developments in the gaming industry, such as the release of Microsoft's Xbox 360 console in December last year and the proposed launch of Sony's PlayStation 3 in November this year, are seen by SCi as opportunities to grow sales over the coming year.

All new games, including Tomb Raider: Legend, will be available on the whole range of gaming consoles and there are plans to launch six mobile phone titles through the company's new-media division.

SCi said yesterday it had also secured the rights from Celador to publish a game version of the television quiz Who Wants to be a Millionaire? for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable platforms, and had bought the rights to Stacked, a poker game. SCi rejected two bids in February, one from the US games group Midway Games and another from the US group Electronic Arts.

Commenting on the results yesterday, Jane Cavanagh, SCI's chief executive, said: "Our plans for the full year remain well on track. Following SCi's acquisition of Eidos in May 2005 we have integrated the two groups, achieved target cost savings and rebuilt the strength of key Eidos franchises. We are confident the launch of eagerly awaited titles such as Tomb Raider: Legend and Hitman: Blood Money provide a firm base to profitability for the full 2006 financial year.

Paul Rossington, of KBC Peel Hunt, said sales of the Tomb Raider game in the first month of its launch were "critical to the company's year success", adding "all eyes will be on" the product. He said the game had successful reviews in 100 trade magazines.

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