E3 2011: PS Vita pricing to start at $249, global launch autumn 2011

Party Room and Near split social approach

E3 2011: PS Vita pricing to start at $249, global launch autumn 2011
The name might not have been surprise – handily broken by blogs all over the globe days before Sony's E3 press briefing – but the degree to which PS Vita mirrors the model offered by smartphones just might be.

Indeed, after detailing Sony's dedicated crack at the mobile market (the previously unveiled PlayStation Suite), SCE CEO Kaz Hirai moved onto the firm's next handheld, PlayStation Vita, handing demo time to Uncharted: Golden Abyss, a fresh take on ModNation, and new Vita-to-PS3 Cross Play enabled title Ruin.

Social sights

It's the split approach of the social elements being integrated into PS Vita that will most interest smartphone developers, however.

PS Vita will come with 'Party Room' built in, which will allow users to keep in touch with their contacts en masse.

The extent of the options available was not made clear, but Party Room appears to offer the kind of friends list options PSN and Xbox Live users have become accustomed to.

The second service, dubbed 'Near' (but seemingly pronounced 'niar') will act as a "dedicated social connection tool", though again, the exact specifics of its set up were not detailed.

Looking for a launch

What did come to light on the web, however, was both the price, and launch date.

Available in both 3G and wi-fi editions, pricing will start at $249/€249 for the wi-fi only device, with the 3G-enabled release coming in at $299/€299.

That means the cheapest PS Vita version will retail at the same US price point as 3DS.

A strict conversion of the dollar prices would bring PS Vita in at around £150 and £180 respectively, though history (and additional costs associated with European retail requirements) would suggest UK gamers are unlikely to see PS Vita come in at anything less than £200.

Hirai also confirmed that PS Vita currently has 80-plus games in development, and will roll out globally this autumn, with the 3G edition tied to AT&T in the US (more carriers to be announced at a subsequent date).

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.