Bonnie Cha

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Sony Goes After Casual Gamers With PS Vita 2000, Japan-Only for Now

Last night at the Tokyo Game Show conference, Sony introduced a new version of its handheld game console aimed at drawing in more casual gamers.

While it keeps all the same basic functionalities of the original PS Vita, the new Sony PS Vita 2000 is 20 percent thinner and 15 percent lighter than the current model and adds an extra hour of battery life for six hours total.

The PS Vita 2000 now has a 5-inch LCD touchscreen, which Sony said will offer better contrast and more natural-looking colors than the current OLED display. The company also replaced its proprietary charger with a more standard microUSB connector, and added one gigabyte of storage memory. The gaming handheld will be available in six different colors, including blue, yellow and pink.

During its presentation, Sony said it designed the PS Vita 2000 to be “more casual” and easier to use in order to attract a wide range of customers, including women and children.

Though console makers like Sony and Nintendo deny that mobile gaming on devices like smartphones and tablets are having an effect on the business, there’s evidence that argues otherwise.

According to a recent report from IDC and App Annie, consumers worldwide spent more money buying games from iTunes and the Google Play store than they did for the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita.

Plus, these newer handhelds might be a sign that console companies see mobile and casual gaming as a threat. In addition to the PS Vita 2000, Nintendo recently introduced the 2DS, a cheaper, 3-D-less version of its gaming handheld (though the design choice is questionable).

Despite Sony’s goal to appeal to a wide group of consumers, the PS Vita 2000’s reach looks to be limited for now. The PS Vita 2000 will be available on Oct. 10, but only in Japan. The price is 18,980 Yen (approximately $190 U.S.).

When asked if the company plans to bring the PS Vita 2000 to other parts of the world, including the U.S., a Sony spokesperson said, “We are considering every opportunity, but have nothing to announce at this time.”

In addition to the PS Vita 2000, Sony announced the PS Vita TV. Slated for a Nov. 14 launch in Japan, the PS Vita TV promises to put games made for the handheld PS Vita on the big screen. It’s a new wrinkle in the company’s Remote Play initiative, which will zap PS4 games onto a Vita on the same Wi-Fi network.

Eric Johnson contributed to this report.

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