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Take-Two Delays  BioShock 2 ,  Mafia II , Cuts Forecasts

Take-Two Delays BioShock 2, Mafia II, Cuts Forecasts

July 13, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

July 13, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

In a surprise announcement today, Take-Two announced it's delaying the launch of 2K Marin's BioShock 2 "to provide additional development time."

The game, previously slated to launch October 30 in Europe and November 3 in North America, will be pushed into Take-Two's fiscal 2010, which begins November 1, though no specific launch date was given.

"We concluded that moving the release of BioShock 2 into fiscal year 2010 was the right decision for the product," said Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick in a statement. "We believe the result will be a more compelling consumer experience and a better performing product in the marketplace."

At the same time, the company cited "reduced sales of catalog products and lower than anticipated initial retailer orders of new releases", and reduced its financial outlook for the year. It's now planning for revenue between $120 million and $130 million for its current quarter, and $350 million to $400 million for the period ending Oct. 31.

This is short of analyst forecasts, which at last check were $162.2 million and $471.4 million for the two quarters, according to Marketwatch.

Zelnick also cited unexpectedly challenging retail environments as another factor in the lowered forecast, but expressed confidence in Take-Two's "long-term potential."

CEO Ben Feder noted that the shift means that sequels to many of Take-Two's strongest franchises -- BioShock 2, Mafia II, Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption -- will all be part of the 2010 fiscal year, strengthening the future prospects in what the company hopes will be a better retail climate.

"The decision to shift a release date is never an easy one, especially with a product as highly anticipated as BioShock 2," said Feder. "We felt that it was essential to invest the additional time to ensure that this title will deliver what its fans expect and deserve."

Four studios are known to be working on BioShock 2: it's been in development primarily by 2K Marin, with co-development from 2K Australia, Digital Extremes is developing the multiplayer component, and the company recently announced that Dark Messiah of Might & Magic developer Arkane Studios is providing design, art and animation support.

Analysts have been critical of Take-Two in the past, claiming its profitability and share value depend too heavily on the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Recently, however, Kaufman Bros. analyst Todd Mitchell said the success of franchises like BioShock should instill investor confidence that Take-Two can turn strong profits in non-GTA fiscal years.

[UPDATE: Take-Two fielded analyst questions about the delay, and Gamasutra listened in on the conference call.

One analyst asked Zelnick whether the focus on making non-GTA years profitable indicated that the company would, in fact, try to release a multiplatform GTA as part of its 2010 lineup.

"We've announced the titles that are part of the lineup," said Zelnick succinctly. "We fully anticipate we'll be able to achieve our goals of operating the company profitably in a year we don't have a multiplatform release of GTA. That's our goal... beyond that, I don't think any more clarification is required."

Pressed on a launch date for BioShock 2 and whether other titles in the 2009-2010 lineup could turn out to be similarly fluid, Zelnick said: "We're not giving more detail on actual launch dates, although we will when it's appropriate to do so."

He added, "When you're into the latter parts of a development cycle, obviously you can have somewhat more confidence about the release date. We're obviously chastened by the news we are announcing today, so we're taking enormous pains for the coming fiscal year (to provide confident dates)."]

[UPDATE 2: Along with BioShock 2, Take-Two also revealed during its conference call that Mafia II, Max Payne 3, and Red Dead Redemption are all due in the first half of calendar year 2010. This represents a delay for Mafia II as well as BioShock 2.]

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