PS Vita to be released in Japan on December 17

Sony's upcoming PS Vita portable game console now has a specific release date for Japanese gamers. reports that the company will launch the console on December 17 in its native country. Sony had previously revealed that the PS Vita would not be released by the end of the year in the US and Europe. Today's announcement was made as part of a Sony press conference prior to the start of Tokyo Game Show, which begins on Thursday. Pricing for the WiFi only version of the PS Vita will be 24,980 yen while the WiFi and 3G version will have a price of 29,980 yen.

In addition to the Japanese launch date and prices, Sony also announced that it will allow users in Japan to pre-pay for the console's 3G wireless service. Sony will offer 20 hours or 100 hours of 3G wireless time for the PS Vita via the NTT DoCoMo wireless carrier. Last June at E3 2011, Sony announced that AT&T will be the 3G wireless provider when the PS Vita is launched in the US, but no wireless pricing plans were revealed at that time.

In related news, Sony also announced that the PS Vita would have an average battery life of between 3 to 5 hours while playing a game with a 5 hour battery life when playing a video. Playing music or putting the PS Vita in standby mode will extend the battery time to 9 hours. It will also take about 2 hours and 40 minutes to fully charge the console's battery. Finally Eurogamer reports that Sony will have 26 games available for the PS Vita's Japanese launch. Six of those games will be downloadable only; the others will be available via download or sold in retail stores in storage card form.

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