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Video-Game Publishers See Another Blockbuster Year

" Spore has been hyped for years and years now," says Kyle Orland, a blogger for games blog

"EA has a lot of franchises and is not going to fail if Spore doesn't meet expectations," he says. "Yet it will be watched very closely because it's all about expectations in the industry."

With the release date uncertain, the possibility of Spore's success hasn't been priced into EA's stock, which is why analysts say they will be watching EA closely next year for details on the game's release and initial reactions to the title. Shares of EA were down 19 cents, or 0.3%, to $58.49 Friday.

Saints Row 2: THQ hasn't confirmed a release date for the game but gamers hope to see the title hit shelves in the second half of 2008.

A successful release could revive THQ's fortunes on the stock market. THQ shares fell nearly 13% this year while competitors Activision and EA were up 70% and 14.7%, respectively.

THQ also plans to release a game based on Disney (DIS) Pixar's next film Wall*E in spring 2008, which may be neglected by gaming enthusiasts but do well among children.

"2007 was a bad year for THQ," says Dan Ahrens, portfolio manager of the Ladenburg Thalman Gaming and Casino Fund. "They could make a comeback next year with their games related to movie titles." The fund has a position in EA, Activision and THQ.
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