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Sony announces PlayStation Vita Japan launch date

Sony is preparing to launch its PlayStation Vita handheld games console, beginning the worldwide roll-out in Japan on 17th December - but insists it has no plans to discount the device to head off competition from Nintendo's 3DS.

The company had originally planned a phased roll-out of the Vita from November 2011 amid rumours that it might be planning a price cut, but now says the handheld will go on sale in the UK and US in early 2012 - missing out on crucial Christmas sales.

Those price cut rumours were comprehensively quashed yesterday, with Sony sticking to its guns over the pricing revealed in August. UK retailer GAME announced then that it would stock the handheld at £229.99 for the basic Wi-Fi version and £279.99 for the 3G-equipped model - a bit of a rip-off, considering US consumers have been promised the handheld variants for $249 (£152) and $299 (£182), respectively.

Following a price cut of its own in August, Nintendo's 3DS is now available in the UK from as little as £99, after suffering relatively poor sales since its launch in March.

The PlayStation Vita's Japanese launch date was unveiled yesterday by the president of Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, Hiroshi Kawano, at an event in the run-up to the annual Tokyo Game Show.

Twenty-six software titles will accompany the Japanese launch of Sony's console, with leading prepaid 3G plans available from Japan's biggest mobile provider, NTT DoCoMo.