Plugged In

PlayStation Vita games already discounted

Plugged In

Usually, there aren't a lot of deals to be found on a system's launch day.

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Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Sony)

As early adopters and die-hard fans scramble to be the first on their block to have the latest gadget, companies capitalize on that fervor and have no trouble commanding full retail price, usually for several weeks or even months.

But the launch of the PlayStation Vita is a bit different than other devices.

Sailing into the headwinds of a hyper competitive market and plenty of skepticism, Vita's launch on Wednesday will be accompanied by a buy 2, get 1 free sale at GameStop locations nationwide -- and it doesn't just include what you might think of as "second tier" titles.

Customers who purchase any pair of the following games -- Wipeout 2048, ModNation Racers: Road Trip, Hotshots Golf: World Invitational, Little Deviants or Uncharted: Golden Abyss -- are able to pick up a third for free. The inclusion of Uncharted is particularly surprising, since it's widely seen as the flagship game of the Vita launch catalog.

Excluded from the sale are games made by third-party publishers, like FIFA Soccer and Rayman Origins, indicating that Sony gave its blessing on this sale to the retailer.

While it's easy to read that as a sign of desperation, that's likely not the rationale behind the move. Sony has targeted $50 million in marketing for the Vita. This unusual action could be a part of that campaign.

Still, analysts are uncertain how Sony's new handheld will fare in a market where Apple is quickly increasing its share and Nintendo is showing signs of weakness for the first time (though, to be fair, the 3DS did sell 5 million units in Japan in its first year).

"I think it's a really nice gaming device and it's definitely a step up from what they had before, but the reality is the market size for this kind of dedicated handheld gaming device is small," says Colin Sebastian of R.W. Baird. "My sense is Sony is marketing this as a radical change to the handheld gaming system and something that can compete with all other platforms — and that's an optimistic scenario."

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