But within hours of the device going on sale customers were panning the device. On one forum, Physmet wrote "I don't think Sony has learned from its mistakes. The PS3 pricing was a major factor in why it flopped. Without people buying it, game makers weren't willing to commit resources to making games for the platform. Now, they're pricing their handheld at the price of a regular console. Good luck!"
The new device features a five-inch (12-centimetre) LED touch screen, two cameras and a GPS receiver, and comes in WiFi and 3G models. It can't immediately play 1080p, with the English manual hinting at an update, nor can it take HD video transferred from the PS3; 720p is the most that can play in normal use.
Another critic wrote "What Sony don't tell you, is you need a special "Vita" memory card for it as it doesn't use normal SD cards and the Vita memory card can cost $130 or more for a 32GB. Sony never learns or adopts standards and tries to force their proprietary crap on everyone. I can go buy 4x32GB SD cards for $130".
Sony mounted a major promotional effort: stands displaying the device were set up in the streets, and shop interiors were decorated in the PS Vita's wide range of bright colours.
Sony said that "The first customers are mostly men between 20 and 30 years of age," adding that the 20 games available to play on the PS Vita as of Saturday were also geared towards the same demographic.
AP said that the Nintendo's Game Boy, released in 1989, led the handheld game market until the mid-2000s, when Sony's PSP cut into its share.
But the emergence of iPhone and Android games is threatening the existence of game-specific handheld devices.
Read: Apple & Google Steal 58% Of Portable Gaming Revenue
Nintendo launched its 3DS portable game console about 10 months ago and it is gaining popularity.
"I already have the previous PSP model and a Nintendo 3DS, but I wanted at all costs to have the PS Vita too," said one male in his thirties, who was queuing up to buy a shopping basket full of accessories for his new gadget.