The next instalment in the Splinter Cell franchise has been delayed, and now won't be released until April next year at the earliest.

The news was announced to Ubisoft investors alongside the firm's Q1 2008/09 sales.

The publisher said: "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, whose release was previously scheduled for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008-09, will now bolster the line-up for fiscal 2009-10."

That means anytime we could see it anytime between 1st April 2009 and 31st March 2010

Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot added: "Splinter Cell is a very important franchise for Ubisoft and we have high anticipation for this game. It is a major product and we want it to be able to catch all the gameplay opportunities it is offering to us today.

"There are lots of opportunities that we want to take and so that is why we can give [them] a little bit more time to make sure it can become a huge product."

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction was demoed at UbiDays in Paris in May 2007 for the PC and Xbox 360 and received widespread criticism for reducing the range of controls in favour of context-sensitive actions.

Reports earlier this year suggested that Conviction was being completely redesigned, but Ubisoft passed it off as "pure speculation". However, if the delay is anything to go by, perhaps there is more truth to it than the publisher is letting on.