Will the holiday season bring good cheer to the video-game sector this year?

With the shopping season drawing near, investors are already starting to place their bets. The early line: another mixed season with both winners and losers. But investors differ, of course, on just who they'll be.

"We're just getting to the point in time where guys get their games out," says Joe Spiegel, who runs a hedge fund at Dalek Capital. "It will be interesting to see how things do."

Investors got a potentially good sign Tuesday, when GameStop ( GME) gave its outlook for the third and fourth quarters.

The retailer, which specializes in the sale of video-game hardware and software, expects same-store sales to fall 12% to 12.5% in the current quarter, which closes at the end of this month, thanks to tough comparisons.

But the company expects same-store sales in its fourth quarter to bounce back, growing 8% to 10%. Same-store sales compare results of like outlets that have been open for more than a year.

GameStop, which recently merged with chief rival Electronics Boutique, expects sales to be driven by both hardware and software, said spokesman Chris Olivera.

Although the company has a thriving used-software business, GameStop expects to see "balanced" sales of new and used games, he said.

Another potentially good sign for software sales is the release of new hardware, which typically spurs game sales because customers buy titles to play on their new machines.

Microsoft ( MSFT) plans to release its new Xbox 360 next month, and many retailers are selling the console only as part of a bundle that includes several games and accessories.

Meanwhile, this will be the first holiday season in the U.S. and Europe for Sony's ( SNE) PlayStation Portable (PSP) and just the second for Nintendo's DS, both of which could see a surge in sales.

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