Empire struck by game delays

UK games developer Empire Interactive warns of increased development costs and delays to the launch of a key new title

UK computer games developer Empire Interactive has warned that it will not achieve the full-year financial results expected by analysts.

The company's value more than halved in early trading on the London stock market on Thursday after it said that increased spending on development and delays in launching a new title would have a negative impact on its performance.

"We now expect the group not to meet market expectations for the full year, principally due to the provision taken against development cost overruns and the postponement of one of our key titles, Ghost Master on the PC," said Ian Higgins, Empire chief executive, in a statement.

Higgins added that Empire believes that Ghost Master has significant potential to become a successful game franchise, and that by delaying its launch the company is trying to ensure that the game is as good as possible.

"We remain confident of continued growth in 2003, as the bulk of our development comes to fruition," Higgins added.

Shares in Empire plunged over 50 percent to 14p after the statement was made.

Empire also announced a loss before tax of £1.52m for the first six month ending 30 June, compared to a loss of £1.63m for the same period in 2001. Turnover at Empire Interactive rose to £11.3m from £4.6m.

According to Higgins, this improvement was due to the successful release of two next generation console titles.

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