mlbWe’re in the midst of a critical season for video games, but Take-Two Interactive is already acknowledging it has hit a foul ball in its fourth fiscal quarter ended Oct. 31 and for the first fiscal quarter ended Jan. 31.

The New York-based video game publisher, one of the biggest public companies in the industry, said that its fourth quarter results will be lower than its prior guidance thanks to the poor sales of its Major League Baseball games. The baseball game business loss is expected to be $30 – $35 million.

The shortfall will reduce earnings per share by 9 cents to about 5 cents a share for the fourth quarter. The company is taking inventory write-downs in its distribution business related to older games. That adds up to 7 cents a share. The company is also taking a one-time non-cash charge of $15 million (19 cents a share for Q4) in a write-down of goodwill in its distribution division. In the fall season, Take-Two’s hits included its basketball game and the shooter game Borderlands.

For the first fiscal quarter ending Jan. 31, the company expects to report a non-GAAP net loss per share in the range of 40 – 50 cents a share on $210 – $260 million in revenue. For the fiscal year ended Oct. 31, Take-Two expects a non-GAAP loss of 40 – 60 cents a share on $1.0 – $1.2 billion in revenue. Strauss Zelnick, chairman of Take-Two, blamed the company’s fiscal 2010 shortfall on the delay of one big game, the baseball weakness, higher development costs and the continued effects of the recession.

For 2010, the company has big titles in the works, including BioShock 2, Mafia II, Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption. BioShock 2 is on target for a global release on Feb. 9, 2010, and Red Dead Redemption is planned for April 27, 2010. Mafia II is scheduled to follow during the first half of calendar 2010, and Max Payne 3 is now planned for release during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010. But the company does not expect to be profitable in the year ending Oct. 31, 2010.