Atari shares have taken a hammering in open trade overnight, slipping by a massive 14% in a single day. The mass offload, which in fairness was followed by an uptake as prices plummeted, was triggered by the announcement that DRIV3R will now be released on June 1st in the US and Europe.
This is a disaster, as it means that DRIV3R revenues will miss this financial year, causing a massive hole in Atari?s books. From a forecast of making a 7% operating profit in the 2003/2004 financial year, Atari now expects to break even, a target seen as somewhat ambitious in financial circles.
Atari is also expected to have to make a considerable payment to the French government this year, as part of its oft-delayed repayment program for the millions it received when Infogrames began its arguably ill-fated and badly thought-out 'buy everything' program in the UK and elsewhere.
This news also raises the question of whether developer Reflections is managing to cope with the shift to PlayStation 2 hardware. The studio?s last offering, Stuntman, was widely criticised in both the specialist and mainstream press and severely damaged the company?s excellent reputation, which was built on the foundations of two best-selling and highly regarded PSOne Driver releases.
Mirroring the issues faced by Tomb Raider developer Core, the jury is out as to whether this is a case of another UK developer struggling to make the generational leap.