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PlayStation Vita won’t hit U.S, Europe in time for holidays

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Scratch the PlayStation Vita off your note to Santa.

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Sony PS Vita

Sony confirmed Thursday that its new handheld system won't launch in the U.S. or Europe until 2012.

While not officially a delay, the announcement still surprised a lot of people, who expected the company to push hard for a widespread launch before the holiday season, since that's such a crucial sales period for the industry.

As it stands, Sony is only planning to release Vita in Japan this year -- and it's not sure if it will hit the holidays there, either.

Sony didn't give any reason for the decision, though there are plenty of potential explanations. The Japanese earthquake could have impacted manufacturing of key components. The company could also simply be following its semi-standard practice of giving Japanese customers a short period of exclusivity on new hardware. Or it's possible that the software lineup wasn't shaping up quite how it had hoped.

Whatever the reason, the delay (or setback, or whatever you'd like to call it) will cost the company a lot of money. Video game companies can make up to 50 percent of their annual sales during the holiday period.

One thing's certain, though: Sony's not planning to budge at all on the Vita's $250 price tag, even with Nintendo slashing the 3DS price to $170.

"We packed so much into the device and made it very affordable," said Sony Corp. Executive Vice President Kazuo. "There is no need to lower the price just because somebody else that happens to be in the video game business decided that they were going to lower their price."

Despite some rumors that Sony planned to launch Vita in October, Sony has always kept the system's release date close to its vest. As far back as E3, the company would only say that it planned to begin its global rollout this year, perhaps telegraphing Thursday's announcement.

The announcement could be good news for Nintendo, who won't have to worry about another competitor in the holiday season. Titles like Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart won't have to go head to head with Vita games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss.

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