Sony Playstation Vita
Sony Playstation Vita SONY

The PlayStation Vita went on sale in Japan this week and will hit UK stores on February 22, but with retail prices starting at £229.99 and games expected to cost between £30 and £40, how will it fare against its smartphone and tablet rivals?

Sony launched the PlayStation Portable (PSP) in 2004, bringing games offering graphics almost on par with the PlayStation 2, a mobile internet browser and a handheld media and entertainment centre, at a time when mobile phones barely had cameras, let alone multitouch and applications.

Bringing flagship games like Fifa, Metal Gear Solid and Gran Turismo to gamers' pockets was revolutionary and the PSP was comfortably more powerful and feature-packed than its only rival, the Nintendo DS.

In 2007 Apple launched the iPhone, and less than a year later the AppStore opened its doors to developers, letting them write applications and games for the surprisingly powerful iPhone and iPod touch. Games came from world-renowned game publishers and bedroom coders alike and, crucially, the prices were all incredibly low.

Cheap games are considered to be between free and £2-£3, while anything above £7 is deemed by many to be too expensive - and this includes blockbusters like Fifa, Grand Theft Auto and Football Manager; games that would cost £40 on a console can be snapped up on iOS and Android for less than a tenth of the price.

Meanwhile, Sony and Nintendo continued to sell games for their PSP and DS consoles for around £30; and while the PSP offers arguably better graphics and processing power, Apple, Samsung and HTC have made up ground at an unprecedented rate, offering smartphones with high definition screens, duel-core (soon to be quad-core) processors clocking in at more than 1GHz and 1GB of RAM.

Smartphones and tablets have quickly caught up to dedicated consoles, brining power, portability, arguably more functionality and considerably cheaper games.

With the PlayStation Vita launching in Japan this week, and going on sale in the UK, Europe and America on February 22, all eyes will be on sales figures once the initial celebration has died down.

Some reports are predicting Apple to shift up to 250 million iOS devices - iPhone, iPads and iPod touches - in 2012 and no matter how popular the Vita proves to be, Sony can't even dream of reaching such figures.

With the iPad 3 and iPhone 5 on the horizon and expected to bring even more power to the table, it's not just Angry Birds that will dominate portable devices, but 'proper' games, too. Last week, Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto 3 for iOS and Android; priced at £2.99 this is a game that was - 10 years ago - a flagship game for the PlayStation 2.

It goes to say that, in another 10 years, smartphones and tablets will be packing games that we're currently playing on our Xboxes and PlayStation 3s, and so where does that leave the PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS? Will there still be a place in the market for a dedicated portable games console, when our smartphones can do that and so much more?