SCi turns to Alistair MacLean thrillers

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The computer games company SCi Entertainment yesterday made moves to create a computer game based on the classic novel Where Eagles Dare. The company, which publishes computer games but does not develop them itself, said it had snapped up the rights to two other Alistair MacLean thrillers.

In addition to Where Eagles Dare, which was also made into a film starring Clint Eastwood, the company has bought the rights to the highly-acclaimed The Guns of Navarone and Ice Station Zebra.

SCi said it would begin working with games developers immediately and that it expected to release the first in a series of games, based on the books, in 2004.

Shares in the company ended down 2.7 per cent, or 1.5p, at 54.5p. At the peak of the internet boom in early 2000, the stock had traded as high as £5.75.

Last October, it launched a new game on the Sony Playstation based around The Italian Job, the classic film starring Michael Caine.

Earlier this month, SCi said it was "confident" it would report profits "in line with expectations" in the six months to 31 March, thanks to successful product launches and new distribution agreements.

SCi's latest move comes as competition in the computer games industry heats up, particularly among the manufacturers of the computer games machines.

Last week, Nintendo slashed the price of its GameCube machine, which launches in Europe tomorrow, to €199 from a previously indicated launch price of around €250. Only days before, the US giant Microsoft had knocked £100 off the price of its recently-launched Xbox computer games machine in the UK to £199.