3DS is not a competitor to PS Vita - Sony

Sony Japan president Hiroshi Kawano expects first 500,000 units of the PlayStation Vita to sell out quickly, says internally Sony does not regard Nintendo's handheld as direct competition.

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TOKYO--During its pre-TGS 2011 press conference yesterday, Sony outlined its plans for the release of the upcoming PlayStation Vita portable, including the announcement of all 26 launch titles, as well as a December 17 release date for the console in Japan.

Now, speaking to Reuters Japan (as translated by Japanese gaming news site Andria Sang), Sony Computer Entertainment Japan president Hiroshi Kawano has gone into further detail about Sony's expectations for the Vita.

The PS Vita is set to launch in North America and Europe next year.
The PS Vita is set to launch in North America and Europe next year.

As already revealed, the handheld will ship in two configurations: a Wi-Fi-only model and a more expensive version that features both Wi-Fi and 3G. Sony announced yesterday that it will be partnering with Japanese mobile service provider NTT Docomo to provide the 3G service for the PS Vita in Japan and that the two companies have already decided on a number of prepaid data plans. One of these includes offering a 100-hour prepaid 3G plan for free with the first 500,000 units of the PS Vita sold in Japan.

When asked about Sony's sales targets for the two models, Kawano said the 3G model offers new possibilities for games and that he hopes this will be the version of the console that most people buy. When asked about end-of-year sales targets for the PS Vita in Japan, Kawano said he expects that the first 500,000 units of the portable will sell out very quickly due to the NTT Docomo prepaid plan offer.

Regarding Sony's competition with Nintendo's 3DS and smartphones, Kawano replied that internally Sony does not see the 3DS as a direct competitor to the PS Vita because the two products are different, both in looks and price points. Kawano also said he does not regard smartphones as a competitor, either. According to the Sony Japan president, gaming is not the main focus of smartphones but merely just a bonus. The PS Vita, on the other hand, is designed for games, with extra features like social networking elements and applications built on top of that. He went on to say that he doesn't believe that people who want to buy a gaming system will go out and buy a smartphone for exactly this reason.

During the same interview, Kawano also revealed that there is currently no talk of a new Monster Hunter coming to the PS Vita. Earlier this week, Capcom announced Monster Hunter 4 for the Nintendo 3DS.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Japanese site Impress Watch and as translated by Andria Sang, Sony Computer entertainment development head Yoshio Matsumoto gave more specific details about the PS Vita's technical capabilities, saying the device was designed with multitasking in mind and so applications, such as the Web browser, social networking applications, and the Near application, can be made to run at the same time as games.

Regarding privacy and the Near application, Matsumoto told Impress Watch that users can choose to turn this off and that the Vita's privacy settings will allow users to choose who will view their public information and details like what games are being played by whom.

Finally, Matsumoto said the PS Vita uses a form of memory card for storage and games can allocate space on their own game cards for saving, but if users want to buy downloadable games or store data they will need to buy one of these memory cards. When asked if the PS Vita's Web browser will support Flash, Matsumoto gave a "no comment" reply.

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