We already knew Sony’s Playstation Vita was going to miss the holiday shopping season in the United States, but now we know by how far. The handheld, which aims to be portable gaming’s last stand against smartphones and tablets, launches on February 22, 2012.
The post-2011 launch date outside of Japan gives Sony and game publishers more time to finish their launch titles. Sony must have seen how poorly Nintendo’s 3DS fared without a solid game lineup, and wanted to avoid releasing the Vita with a whimper. The company says more than 100 PS Vita games are in development now, but didn’t say how many will be available at launch. (In Japan, where the PS Vita launches in December, 26 games will be available from the beginning.)
Sony’s still planning to sell the PS Vita for $250 in the United States, or $300 with 3G connectivity from AT&T. Nintendo’s decision to slash the 3DS price from $250 to $170 apparently hasn’t changed Sony’s thinking on the matter. The cost of AT&T 3G service is still a mystery.
I’m looking forward to the PS Vita even though I have my doubts about the viability of gaming handhelds in a world of smartphones, tablets and the iPod Touch. The PS Vita acknowledges those threats by including a touch screen, front- and rear-facing cameras and apps like Skype, Facebook, Twitter and a web browser, but it also tries to be a serious gaming handheld with quad-core graphics and dual analog sticks for shooters and other modern games. I hope Sony is giving itself enough time to get the little things right and to have a big launch in four months.