NEWS - Wednesday, December 18, 2002


Europe still doing well, not publishers

LONDON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - European video games sales are still on track for a record Christmas despite a series of profit warnings from prominent developers and retailers this week, analysts said on Wednesday. A batch of new titles featuring dark alley shootouts or the manoeuvring of a stolen car down city streets are, as expected, racking up steady sales. What has perplexed industry observers is a cut-throat price war that has blown holes in profit margins. The latest data from market research firm ScreenDigest of Britain shows that European video game software sales are poised to increase 23 percent this year to $5.9 billion despite a profit warning on Tuesday from Europe's biggest specialty games retailer Game Group Plc . "No doubt this will still be a record year," Ben Keen, executive director of ScreenDigest, told Reuters on Wednesday. But Game's share price has plunged some 65 percent in two days after its profit warning, triggering a raft of downgrades felt throughout the industry. At 1600 GMT UK retailers Dixons and GUS Plc , owner of the Argos chain, were down 4.2 percent and 3.3 percent respectively after similar losses on Tuesday. U.S. video game publisher Activision Inc (nasdaq: ATVI - news - people) dropped nearly 22 percent on Nasdaq to $12.29 on Wednesday. Activision, maker of the popular "Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4" game, also issued a profit warning on Tuesday, citing weak holiday sales, particularly in the United States where November software sales fell sharply.
Source: http://www.reuters.com/

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