T2 Pubbing Next 4 Heavyweights In First Half 2010

Following the delay of BioShock 2, the game's publisher announced that it expects to launch it, Red Dead Redemption, Mafia II and Max Payne 3 before July 1, 2010.

Publisher Take Two announced its revised release slate during a call with investors on Monday afternoon, timed to elaborate on news of the BioShock 2 delay.

The company "currently plan[s] to release all four titles in the first half of calendar 2010," company CEO Ben Feder told investors. He included the caveat that the company always strives to find the "optimal" time to release their titles.

The publisher also has announced games for the second half of the year, though he declined to name what they will be. Speculation among investment analysts is that one of those late 2010 titles could be a new Grand Theft Auto, given the development patterns of franchise development studio Rockstar. When asked directly by analysits on the call if a new GTA was coming late in 2010, Feder and Take Two chairman Strauss Zelnick declined to confirm, deny or offer any specifics.

The plan to release four big sequels in the first half of 2010 is a byproduct of Take Two's expressed desire to maintain a standard of high quality for its games, a claim also used to justify GTA IV's push from its original fall 2007 release window to spring of 2008.

But Zelnick also said that the BioShock 2 push was also partially due to a softness at U.S. retail, where the company is seeing orders for new titles come in lower than expected and where, he said, the number of high-quality titles may crowd the marketplace. While that may be the case, early 2010 is beginning to look crowded as well with the Take Two foursome joining God of War III, Dante's Inferno, Mass Effect 2 and several other games slated for early next year.

One analyst asked if BioShock 2's delay could be blamed on the PS3 version of the game or on its series-first online components. "The pushback of BioShock 2 is related to development overall," Zelnick said. "I certainly wouldn't want to pinpoint it to any one platform or any one feature because that's not the case."