Sony in HK 3G talks over new PlayStation gadget
Sony Corp is talking to Hong Kong 3G carriers about its latest device, PlayStation Vita, but will not comment on rumours that Hong Kong gamers may get the device before it is offered in the US and Europe.
PlayStation Vita, which has 3G and Wifi connections, will be launched in Japan on December 17 - the first major game product launch in Japan since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that left 20,000 dead or missing.
While no Hong Kong date has been set, it is understood it will be launched here around the time of the Asia Game Show, which runs from December 23 to 26 at Wan Chai's Convention and Exhibition Centre.
A Hong Kong launch before the end of the year would put gamers here ahead of those in the US and EU, with Sony saying the portable game console would not be available in those two markets until next year.
The console made its debut at Thursday's Tokyo Game Show, a four-day gaming extravaganza staged by the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association.
Tetsuhiko Yasuda, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Asia (SCEA), was tight-lipped on the timing of the Hong Kong launch, only saying that it would be 'very close' to its Japanese release.
'In about a month's time we can announce which will be the carrier and on which date PS Vita will be available in Hong Kong,' he said.
While he declined to comment on Hong Kong pricing, the console will sell in Japan at 29,980 yen (HK$3,039) for the 3G/Wifi version, and 24,980 yen for the Wifi-only model.
Sony also announced that PS Vita will be launched with 26 titles, including three to four that will be localised with Chinese-language interfaces to accompany PS Vita's Hong Kong launch.
Although smartphones have been eating into the handheld-gaming market in many parts of Asia, Yasuda rejected suggestions that console games were under threat.
'Our strength lies in the support from core gamers,' he said.
Unlike its predecessors like Play Station 3 (PS3) and PlayStation Portable (PSP), which target serious gamers, PS Vita is also compatible with relatively simple games and social networking functions like Facebook, Twitter and Skype. It is also capable of connecting with PS3 and accessing Cloud storage.
Sony Computer Entertainment Hong Kong's deputy managing director, said PS Vita will also support games that are less complex, and it will encourage small-to-medium-sized game developers in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan to develop games for the PS Vita platform.
Mirko Ernkvist, a visiting research fellow for Baba Game Lab at the University of Tokyo's graduate school of interdisciplinary information studies, questioned whether PS Vita would help Sony expand market share among casual gamers.
'This time Sony will face the full competition from smartphone games and tablet computers that will make it difficult for them to reach a broader audience,' said Ernkvist.
In July, Sony cut its annual profit projection from US$1 billion to US$770 million for the current financial year, which ends next March, after realising a US$199 million first-quarter loss reflecting the impact of the earthquake and slow TV sales. It also cut the PS3 retail price globally from US$299 to US$249 for the 160-gigabyte model and from US$349 to US$299 for the 320GB model.
Sony has sold 51.8 million PS3 consoles since its launch in 2006.
The number of PlayStation 2 units sold between March 2000 and January 31 this year. It is the world's greatest selling game console