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Acclaim topper unplugs

Job cuts expected in administration

Vidgame publisher Acclaim Entertainment said its president-chief operating officer has quit and it will lay off more than a third of administrative staff after a disastrous second half of 2002 that saw the company rack up $42.1 million in losses even as the industry enjoyed its biggest year.

The losses led prexy-COO Edmond Sanctis to quit only a year into the job, after heading Snap.com and NBC’s Internet operations. Rod Cousens, president of Acclaim’s international operations, was named to replace Sanctis.

Company said it will eliminate 35% of administrative staff to cover losses and bring expenses in line with expected income but declined to release other details. It has more than 800 employees.

Acclaim gained some notoriety in 2002 over its racy “BMX XXX” title, which combined extreme sports with the first digital nudity in a mainstream game. But the company’s overall offerings fared poorly.

Though the vidgame business has been growing quickly, to an expected $10 billion-plus in revenues this year, individual publishers have been hurt by changes in the way retailers have been stocking their shelves, emphasizing a handful of hit titles and restocking even those more slowly in an attempt to manage inventories more closely in a weak economy.

In the quarter ended Dec. 31, Acclaim’s sales dropped 22% to $63.1 million, causing a loss of $13.9 million. Acclaim shares dropped a penny per share on the news Friday to 60¢.

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