Zelda makes analyst's list of 2009 releases

Lazard Capital Markets' Colin Sebastian expects Link's next adventure to help push modest industry growth next year; GTAV potentially arriving in 2010.

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With this year's release of Wii installments for Super Smash Bros., Animal Crossing, and Mario Kart, there are few cherished Nintendo series in need of a new-generation debut. That means it's about time for the publisher to start a second lap of its greatest hits, and if one industry analyst's prognostication is accurate, leading off that lap could be a second installment of The Legend of Zelda.

In a note to investors this morning, Lazard Capital Markets' Colin Sebastian listed a slate of 22 games that could potentially help drive a 5 percent growth in game sales for 2009. In addition to heavily anticipated games like Resident Evil 5 and Starcraft II, Sebastian included a new Princess Peach adventure and an as-yet-unannounced Zelda game.

In the report, the list of games was sourced to Lazard's research, as well as to company reports. Speaking to GameSpot, Sebastian clarified that the inclusion of a Zelda game on his 2009 list was speculation on his part.

The last Zelda installment, The Twilight Princess, was a launch game for the Wii in November of 2006. It was originally announced as an exclusive for Nintendo's previous console, the GameCube, but was adapted to headline the slate of traditional gamer offerings at the Wii launch. Twilight Princess did arrive on the GameCube, but its release was staggered a month after its Wii counterpart.

Sebastian's note also referenced Grand Theft Auto V in passing.

"Looking ahead to 2009, we expect mid-single-digit growth in software sales on a tough growth comparison and potentially fewer hit titles (e.g., no GTA V until 2010)," Sebastian wrote.

When asked for clarification on that remark, Sebastian said he wasn't so much specifying 2010 as a release window for the game as telling investors that it would definitely not be coming out in 2009. However, he also pointed to Rockstar Games' release schedule of Grand Theft Auto games in the previous generation, which saw GTAIII released in 2001, GTA: Vice City in 2002, and GTA: San Andreas in 2004.

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