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Sony Announces Japan Release Date for Vita

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Spending on video games throughout the world will surpass $74 billion in 2011. (Photo: M. Zacharzewski)
Spending on video games throughout the world will surpass $74 billion in 2011. (Photo: M. Zacharzewski)

BUSINESS

  • PlayStation Vita to be released on December 17 in Japan
  • 26 games available at release date with over 70 more to be released in 2012
  • Vita expected to rival Nintendo 3DS in Japanese handheld console market

Sony will launch its new portable gaming device, the PlayStation Vita, on December 17 in Japan, with the rest of the world following in 2012.

The next-generation Vita will hit Japanese stands with 26 games available, including some popular titles, such as Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Ridge Racer, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Over 70 other games are sill in development, with Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid among those to be released next year.

The 3G+Wi-Fi version will cost around $325, with a Wi-Fi only console coming in at $390.

The device will have a 2,200 mAh battery that will give up to 5 hours of gaming or video playback and up to 9 hours of music listening, based on default brightness settings with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth disabled.

Japan’s biggest mobile operator NTT DoCoMo will be the primary 3G carrier, with data plans going at $12.73 for 20 hours or $64.69 for 100 hours.

The Vita is expected to take the fight to Nintendo’s 3DS in the Japanese handheld console market. The 3DS offers 3D games without the glasses, while Sony’s latest device uses an OLED touch screen that supports high-definition graphics.

“Ultimate Entertainment System”

During a press conference, Sony gaming unit head Hiroshi Kawano called the Vita “the ultimate entertainment system,” saying it had every possible function a handheld console needs.

Analysts say the Vita will be a major player in Sony’s networked entertainment strategy and will help it compete with Apple’s App store and iTunes as it looks to push its software across smartphone, tablet PC and console platforms.

Sony’s new device will come with its own internet browser and music player, as well as photo and video applications. Accessing social media websites will also be a cinch, Kawano said at the press conference.

The Vita comes packed with a Torne digital TV tuner or DVR application, which will allow users to use synch with the PlayStation 3 and remotely access streaming TV and browse and record programs.

The DVR app is currently only proposed for the Japanese market.

With the launch of the Vita, Sony will be looking to reassure consumers it has learned from the hacking scandal that earlier this year that forced it to shut down its PlayStation Network, dealing the firm a serious blow both financially and in reputation.

Key Statistics – Global Video Game Industry (source: Gartner)

  • In 2011, spending on video games throughout the world will surpass $74 billion, up over 10% on last year’s total of $67 million.
  • Spending on video games worldwide will top $112 billion by 2015.
  • In the gaming software segment, mobile gaming will see the highest growth with 15% of the market in 2010 jumping to 20% by 2015.
  • In 2010, more than 66% of global gaming revenue was generated by video games software and consoles sales.
  • In 2011, global sales of video games consoles and handheld devices will reach $18 billion.
  • Web-based games are expected to create a further $12 billion in revenue.

By James Mulholland for
James Mulholland is a Paris-based internet and broadcast journalist specializing in sports, current affairs and technology news, while also freelancing as a photographer.

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