Electronic Arts Stalls 'Godfather' Release

The game won't be ready for the holiday season.
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REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. -- The

Godfather

, it seems, won't be enjoying the holidays.

Electronic Arts

(ERTS)

announced Thursday that it will delay its game based on the classic Francis Ford Coppola movie. Instead of debuting the title during the holiday quarter this year, EA will release it in the first calendar quarter of next year.

The company was supposed to demonstrate the game Thursday afternoon at a press gathering here. But company officials decided the game wasn't ready to show off and was running too far behind schedule to make the holiday launch, company spokesman Jeff Brown said.

The game has been a highly anticipated title, potentially establishing a new franchise for EA and representing one of the company's first efforts in the open-ended game genre pioneered by

Take-Two Interactive's

(TTWO) - Get Report

Grand Theft Auto

series.

Brown declined to predict what the financial impact of the delay might be. On the one hand, EA still plans to launch the title during its current fiscal year ending in March. On the other hand, the title will miss out on the holiday sales season -- the most lucrative period for the games business. And potentially, EA could push back the release beyond this fiscal year.

Even before Thursday's announcement, the title has seen some controversy. Coppola has criticized the game, actor Al Pacino, who played the key character of Michael Corleone, declined to participate in the making of the game, and recent reports suggest that EA may not be able to use voice recordings made by actor Marlon Brando before his death.

Still, the game will include voices of other prominent actors in the movie series, including Robert Duvall and James Caan.

The announcement comes as EA attempts to get its business back on track -- the company's earnings for its last fiscal year came in substantially below expectations, as EA battled a price war in the sports-game segment.

Following the news of the title's delay, EA's stock fell 1.7% in after-hours trading to $59.31 on Instinet.