Sony Corp. this week said there is a market for a gaming handheld like the Playstation Vita despite competition from phone and tablet-based gaming devices.

Sony Computer Entertainment, President and CEO, Andrew House this week told the Playstation Blog that there is a market for a dedicated gaming device, referencing strong sales of Nintendo Co.’s Nintendo 3DS as a demand indicator.

“The sales of the 3DS…have been exceedingly good,” House said.

“I think it shows that there is a lot of demand for a gaming primary portable device.”

The PS Vita, which launched Dec. 17 in Japan, has sold 500,000 units in the territory. Launch sales were lower-than-expected against competition from a recently price cut Nintendo 3DS with a solid holiday game lineup.

The handheld, which will be sold Feb. 22 in the U.S., may encounter resistance from not only the Nintendo 3DS but from smartphones and tablet devices, which have grown as primary game devices with quick fix titles like Rovio Entertainment Ltd.’s Angry Birds and Halfbrick Studios’ Fruit Ninja.

While the Nintendo 3DS has sold more than 4 million units in the U.S. and 4 million units in Japan, initial sales last Mar. fell flat when priced at $249.99 with limited game selection. By Aug., the company slashed the handheld to $169.99 which immediately spurred demand into the holiday season.

With the PS Vita starting at $249.99 for the Wi-Fi SKU at $299.99 for the 3G SKU, the device may encounter similar launch resistance in a post-holiday economic climate.

To hold a stronger impact in the states, the PS Vita U.S. launch will be supported by 25 titles from first and third-party studios, including Uncharted: Golden Abyss and EA Inc.’s EA Sports FIFA Soccer.

In addition, the PS Vita includes technology not found in a portable gaming device, including a 5-inch OLED touch-screen, rear touch panel, and graphics chipset capable of rendering Playstation 3-like visuals.

Finally, Sony is selling the Playstation Vita First Edition Bundle Feb. 15, to allow die-hard fans to secure the product and perhaps drive word-of-mouth one week earlier.

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