It appears that last week’s European Vita release date leak was way off base because Sony announced today that the handheld will not launch in North America or Europe until after Christmas. Sony Corp. Executive Vice President Kazuo Hirai dropped the proverbial bomb on Sony fans today that the system will only release in Japan before 2011 is out. The system will miss out on the crucial holiday buying season in all other regions.
Hirai-san did not refer to this move as a delay and cited a desire to have a strong software lineup available from day one as the driving factor behind the decision. The executive staunchly refused to narrow down the release window further than 2012. He was far more forthcoming when it came to the possibility of rethinking the unit’s price. Unintimidated by Nintendo’s 3DS price drop, Kaz insisted that Sony will stand firm with the $299.99 and $249.99 price points.
Hirai made the case for the system to a group of reporters today at the electronics giant’s Tokyo HQ. “We packed so much into the device and made it very affordable. There is no need to lower the price just because somebody else that happens to be in the video game business decided that they were going to lower their price,” he said.
Vita’s slippage into the next calendar year will no doubt fuel some interesting debate about whether or not it opens the door for Nintendo to recover from its early 3DS struggles. Will the arrival of games like Mario and Star Fox propel the system up the sales charts while Sony’s next-gen handheld treads water?
It seems unlikely given the, quite frankly, horrendous launch period and continuing lack of compelling third party software. Then again, the video game industry is a fickle beast, often zigging when you expect it to zag or bringing out Duke Nukem Forever when you’re looking forward to something fun. Plus, there’s that whole $70 price reduction making things interesting. Stay tuned gamers; we’re in for a bumpy holiday season.
[Image via The Virtual Underground.]