Sony: Vita is region free; has learned from PSP

The PlayStation Vita, will indeed be region-free, letting users play games imported from other regions, Sony Computer Entertainment worldwide studios president Shuhei Yoshida has confirmed. He's also criticized the PSP, saying it couldn't offer games distinct enough from home console titles, and that it was a "mistake" for Sony to give it such poor post-launch software support.

"As far as the hardware goes we didn't put enough resources in the hardware to allow us to develop games that are unique to the PSP compared to home consoles," Yoshida told Game Informer. "We had many products on PSP, but most of these games like God of War came from the console. Basically, you can play a bigger, better version of these titles on PS3."

"So pre-launch of PSP we were too happy with having the basic capability of PS2-class games to play on PSP, in terms of the screen and CPU/GPU. But after the launch and a few years time, just having pretty graphics isn't enough. Especially when you can play a bigger, better game on home consoles. That's the one big lesson when we designed the PS Vita."

The Vita makes itself more distinct with a touchscreen, touchpad, cameras, GPS and 3G, he explained. However, all these bells and whistles mean the Vita can only offer a battery life of 3-5 hours while playing games.

Yoshida highlighted Sony's poor-launch support of the PSP as teaching another valuable lesson for the Vita, saying that it'll give the new handheld "a stream of good titles through release."

"Because we shifted development resources to the PS3 launch, we kind of stopped supporting PSP games post-launch. That was a big mistake, because we didn't realize that third-party developers were doing the same because they were working on the new launch of software on the PS3, Nintendo Wii, and Xbox 360 as well," he explained.

Yoshida also noted that Sony is "very aware of" the frustration caused by its frequent and slow system software updates, saying that "we'd like to address those issues on PS Vita going forward" but he "cannot talk about specific plans."

Confirmation of the Vita being region-free came via Twitter.

The Vita launches in Japan on December 17 but isn't due in North America and Europe until 2012. In the USA, it'll cost $249.99 for the Wi-Fi-only model and $299.99 for the 3G-enabled version.