Today (Sept. 9, 2013) Sony unveiled a new smart STB/game console hybrid, named PS Vita TV. The device is slated to launch on November 14th and cost 9,480 Yen (~US$ 95.18) in Japan – the only confirmed market to date. The device is billed as an entertainment solution to compete with other smart STBs, but at its heart is the PS Vita, less the touchscreen and controls – the device will be controlled with a DualShock 3 controller and includes a Vita card slot. Beyond playing Vita games and OTT content the micro-console/STB will also allow users to play the upcoming PS4 via “Remote Play” (with an update expected to arrive after launch).
While it is likely the PS Vita TV will eventually have wider distribution, the other announcements before TGS (Tokyo Game Show) lend some insight into Sony’s launch choices. Sony also announced a less expensive, redesigned PS Vita (named PS Vita 2000) that is thinner, lighter, comes in multiple colors and uses a LCD screen instead of the pricier OLED found in the current Vita handheld. Pricing is set at 18,980 Yen (120 GBP, US$ 190), although only Japan received a launch date of October 10th. Sony’s next generation console (PlayStation 4) will also get a February 22, 2014 launch in Japan (instead of November 15th and 29th 2013 for NA and Europe respectively) – reportedly to make launch titles are ready for the Japanese market. This is, however, the first PlayStation console to launch to international markets before Sony’s home country, Japan. While the software library could very well be an issue, it is also very likely Sony is trying to generate additional interest in its Vita platform, which continues to struggle. The Japanese market has also proven softer than expected for Nintendo’s Wii and with Microsoft already pushing out a Japan launch for the Xbox One into 2014 there was less pressure to launch in Japan in 2013.