Sony To Launch Handheld Playstation Vita Console Wednesday

 Sony

Sony Computer Entertainment America will launch its PlayStation Vita handheld console on Wednesday, creating what the company hopes will be a new space in the gaming market.

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PS Vita began shipping in late 2011 in Japan, where more than half a million devices sold in the first three weeks. Tomorrow the device becomes available in Europe and North America, after a pre-launch began last week.

It enters a space that includes portable game devices, as well as smartphones and tablets.

"You can play games on all of these devices, but what you can’t do is have an immersive console-like experience. (PS Vita) is almost like having a PS3 in your pocket,” suggested Guy Longworth, senior vp of marketing and PlayStation Network at SCEA, of the potential market opportunity.

The PS Vita includes a 5-inch OLED multi-touch screen, rear touch pad, dual analog sticks, motion sensors, front and rear cameras, and GPS functions.

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for a 3G/Wi-Fi is $300, and Wi-Fi only models going for $250.

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PS Vita allows users to connect with services including Facebook, Skype and Twitter. It also connects to the Playstation Network, which has an estimated 90 million account holders worldwide.

"This is a new distribution platform for Hollywood," Longworth suggested. "We have a partnership with Netflix and Hulu; this is a new way for them to distribute content. Sony also has a video delivery store. … We have been talking [with Sony Pictures] about how we can bring some of their content to the platform."

Twenty-six game titles -- ranging in price from $9.99- $49.99 -- will be available on Wednesday. More than 100 titles are in development, according to Sony.

The PS Vita includes augmented reality features. "Because of the rear camera, you can now be playing a game …in the world that you are currently in," Longworth said. "Some of the developers have really grabbed hold of it and are having some fun with it. …What you will probably see is increasing in use of the ability to create new and different experiences within your own world."

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