Sony plans to release the PlayStation Vita, a portable video game player, on February 22, 2012, in the United States, Canada and Europe, the company announced at a technology conference on Tuesday.
The Vita will succeed the PlayStation Portable, or PSP, and PlayStation Go, a smaller version of the hand-held device. The Vita has a touchscreen and a touch-sensitive pad on the back of the device, along with the buttons and control sticks gamers expect to see on controllers.
Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Jack Tretton and a Sony spokesman demonstrated a sequel to a popular PlayStation 3 game called "Uncharted: Golden Abyss." Players can use the standard controller or manipulate the character using touch controls, as the spokesman showed onstage at the Web 2.0 Summit. The game looks very attractive but when shown on the big screen, not as sharp as a console game.
Sony previously announced pricing for the Vita, with a version that connects to the Web via Wi-Fi costing $250 and another that has 3G wireless data connectivity for $300.
Nintendo made deep price cuts to its portable 3DS system just five months after a strong launch when sales began to slow.
Analysts expect Sony will struggle to sell consumers a dedicated hand-held game machine now that smartphones and tablets have become powerful enough to handle powerful games.
"The advent of smartphone gaming is quite additive to what we're trying to accomplish," Tretton said. People may look to the Vita when they want to graduate from more simplistic games sold on phones, he said.
The Vita will first hit stores on December 17 in Japan, where Sony's portable systems have fared better.