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Thursday, June 19, 2003
Infogrames CEO upbeat on Matrix sales

Europe's largest video game maker, Infogrames/Atari said on Thursday it was confident it would reach and even beat a sales target of four million copies for its new "Enter The Matrix" game launched on May 15.

This was after the game made a strong debut, selling more than 2.5 million copies worldwide in its first month of release, or over two-thirds of the four million shipped to retailers on Day One of its launch.

"We can say that we will sell and possibly exceed four million copies. But it's hard to say when. Will it be July-August, September or by Christmas?" Chief Executive Bruno Bonnell told Reuters. Analysts have said that "Enter the Matrix," the company's biggest budget game yet, is key to Infogrames' future, the more so since it faces bond repayments over the next two years. They say that the game, the video game companion to sci-fi thriller "The Matrix Reloaded," must sell all four million copies just to break even after Infogrames spent $47 million just to buy Matrix's U.S. developer Shiny Entertainment.

But selling seven to eight million copies would propel Matrix into the mega-hit category and sharply boost earnings, analysts say.

Bonnell said the release of the last installment of the movie trilogy "The Matrix Revolution" in November would provide a further boost to sales of the video game. "Based on current data, we tend to think we could very significantly exceed four million units over the next fiscal year," he said.

Matrix sales have so far beaten initial targets and showed that despite mixed reviews the game continued to sell well after the hype of its launch.

"We initially planned Matrix would sell 2.5 million copies over the fiscal year. What we had not planned was that it would do that in just a month and without Japan," Bonnell said. The game is being launched in Japan on Thursday. North America made 60 percent of sales, Europe 40 percent.

Bonnell would not provide a detailed breakdown but said that in the United States the game made 50 percent of its sales on Sony's Playstation 2, 25 percent on Microsoft's XBox, 10 percent on Nintendo's GameCube and 15 percent on PCs.

In Europe Matrix was number one on all formats in Britain and Germany. In France it was number one on consoles but number two on PCs.

Speculation Matrix was doing well mounted this week after Infogrames said it had grabbed the number one spot among U.S. video games publishers in May with an 18.4 percent market share. Bonnell also confirmed the group's target for revenue of 880 million euros for fiscal year 2002/03 over twelve months.

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