Sony

Sony goes after the Apple TV and OUYA with $100 PlayStation Vita TV streaming and gaming box

Sony goes after the Apple TV and OUYA with $100 PlayStation Vita TV streaming and gaming box

Sony is making a huge bet on the US market.

The PlayStation 4 is launching in North America on November 15, for the competitive price of $399.99. Japan, on the other hand, won’t see the system until February 22 of next year. Japan will get a new Sony console in 2013 however, it will just be a version of the Vita without a screen or controller, and with a sub-$100 price at retail. The system will launch on November 14 in Japan, and you can see the full specs of the hardware on the official press release.

So what is it? Imagine a version of Apple TV that can play Vita games on your television, stream content, and play all the existing PlayStation Network games that would be available on the standard Vita platform. The system will also be able to stream a variety of Japanese video services as well as offering Sony’s own content.

The system will also be able to play some or many of your existing Vita games as the hardware comes with a slot for Vita cartridges, and will also be able to access all your Vita content bought via the PlayStation Network. The PlayStation Vita TV comes with 1GB of internal memory.

There are limitations, however. The $100 system won’t come with a controller, although a $150 bundle will offer the system with a Dual Shock 3 controller and an 8GB memory card. You’ll be able to play ad-hoc multiplayer games with another Vita system, although the standard Dual Shock 3 won’t include the touchscreen functionality on the front and back of the Vita hardware, making some games unplayable. Those titles may be added later if the system is updated to included Dual Shock 4 support.

You’ll also be able to steam PlayStation 4 games to whatever television the PS Vita TV is connected to, just like you could with a normal Vita. In fact, just imagine this thing as a Vita with no screen, no controller, just guts and a few extra streaming services built in.

The $100 pricing will likely be competitive with any Apple TV updates that Apple releases during the company’s Tuesday event, and also keeps the price around what you’d expect to pay for a high-quality Roku box. The gaming offerings for the PS Vita TV will also be much more extensive than competitors’ products. There is no information on when, or if, this product will be coming to other regions around the world.

It remains to be seen if this sort of microconsole has a market, although a US release would all but remove the market for consoles like the OUYA in the United States, especially with Sony’s outreach to indie developers. A single release could target those with PS Vita TV’s or the traditional Vita and, as sad as it sounds, those markets likely dwarf the demand for the OUYA.

This is an interesting move, although I’m not sure how much it will move the needle for Sony in terms of sales and consumer interest in markets outside of Japan. On the other hand, playing Spelunky on your television while accessing streaming services and extending the PlayStation 4’s reach to a second television in the house is an interesting value proposition, especially at $100.

The PlayStation Vita TV is the sort of product that could be disruptive, but that can also be said of every microconsole, and none of the products have yet to make much of a splash.