Sony’s slick PlayStation Vita handheld videogame gadget hit major markets around the world on Wednesday as the Japanese entertainment titan bucked a trend towards play on smartphones.
Sony packed movies, music, and the Internet into PS Vita handsets along with what it called the “biggest and best launch lineup” of games in PlayStation history.
Vita became available on Wednesday in Europe, Australia, Canada, Latin America and the United States.
Vita handsets that link to the Internet with Wi-Fi only were priced at $250 in the United States while models also capable of connecting to 3G telecom networks were priced at $300. AT&T is the exclusive US carrier for Vita.
“Today marks a historic day for the PlayStation brand and our fans,” said Sony Computer Entertainment America president Jack Tretton. “PlayStation Vita is the most powerful and connected portable gaming system ever created.”
Vita is the first gaming handset to provide play as compelling as that on PlayStation 3 consoles, according to Tretton.
Anyone that owns a PS3 and a Vita can start games on one device and continue playing on the other, according to Sony.
Vita debuted in the US market with access to popular streaming film and television service Netflix.
Sony also made its own Music Unlimited service available on Vita devices in United States.
The Japanese film, music and consumer electronics colossus has sold more than a half million Vita devices since it launched in Asia in December, according to executives.
Vita made its worldwide debut in Japan on December 17 and was released elsewhere in Asia close to the end of the month.
The next-generation PlayStation Vita aims to take a bite out of the growing smartphone games market.
It features a five-inch (12-centimetre) LED touch screen, two cameras and a GPS receiver.
Game software ranging from “Angry Birds” and “Scrabble” to first-person shooters and car racing titles are consistently the most popular “apps” for smartphones.
Vita boasts exclusive blockbusters such as “Uncharted: Golden Abyss” and Electronic Art’s “FIFA Soccer.”