Sony cuts PlayStation Vita price by a third in Japan

The price cuts were revealed after weak holiday sales, as Sony prepares for a major announcement in the US later this week

Sony will slash the price of its PlayStation Vita handheld game consoles by up to a third in Japan, it said Monday, weeks after it cut its sales target for the device following weak holiday sales.

The 3G and Wi-Fi versions of the Vita will both cost ¥19,980 (US$212) from Feb. 28, said Sony Computer Entertainment, the company's game division. The 3G model currently sells for ¥29,980 and the Wi-Fi only model ¥24,980.

A spokeswoman declined to comment on whether similar price cuts will follow in other countries.

The price cuts in Japan were announced in a Ustream broadcast by Hiroshi Kawano, the president of Sony's domestic game division. He also revealed a new silver version of the console, as well as several game titles for the local market including Sony title Soul Sacrifice and Fantasy Star Online 2.

The announcement comes days before the company holds a Feb. 20 news conference in New York to discuss the "future of the PlayStation business," which is widely expected to reveal the company's new home console, the PlayStation 4. Japanese media have reported the new PS4 will go on sale this year and will use cloud-based gaming technology.

The Vita price cut comes after Sony revealed in its October-December earnings results that sales of its handheld games disappointed during the crucial holiday season. The company said earlier this month that it now expects to sell 7 million of its Vita and older PlayStation Portable handhelds in its fiscal year through March, down from the 10 million it predicted in November. Sony does not break out individual sales numbers of the Vita and PSP.

Sony follows Nintendo in struggling with the launch of its flagship handheld. Nintendo slashed the price of its 3DS less than six months after its 2011 launch. Both companies are struggling with competition from the exploding game market on tablets and smartphones.

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Jay Alabaster

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