The upcoming Sony handheld gaming platform and successor to the PSP, once known as the NGP, was fully unveiled and christened the PlayStation Vita during this year’s E3. The device’s power and potential were emphasized extensively throughout Sony’s press conference and a large number of features and games were announced. Sony has yet to deliver an official release date for the Vita, but may have beaten them to the punch.

According to Destructoid, customers who have pre-ordered the PlayStation Vita through Amazon are receiving reports of a December 31st release date, along with estimates of delivery by January 4th, 2012. Sony has not confirmed the date officially, so take the news with a hefty grain of salt.

A December 31st release seems fairly improbable considering what we know so far. For one, the hypothetical release date pokes fun at reports that the system would be available in 2011. Secondly, it is no secret that the Vita will be competing head to head with the Nintendo 3DS, and skipping the holiday season could mean giving up a large portion of the handheld market. Finally, the date should immediately throw up a red flag to those aware of Amazon’s usual practice with unannounced release dates.

Amazon frequently uses December 31st as a placeholder date for products that don’t have a firm release date. This is most likely the case with the PlayStation Vita. If at all possible, I’m sure Sony will release the handheld this fall to capitalize on the holiday season.

PlayStation Vita Price

As mentioned above, Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s Vita will both by vying for gamers’ attention and a smooth launch will be vital for the Vita. The 3DS has had a rocky start due to a severe lack of games, but its release schedule is revving up and a number of high profile games will be available for the system later this year. It is in Sony’s best interest to release the PlayStation Vita as soon as possible.

In conclusion, recent reports suggest the Vita will debut on December 31st, but a more in-depth look at the news points to an earlier release date.

Does the claimed December 31st release date have any validity? Are you interested in buying a Vita this year?

The PlayStation Vita will hit the market sometime later this year for $249.99 or $299.99 for the 3G model.

Source: Destructoid