PlayStation Vita users will be able to make video calls for the first time thanks to the addition of Skype video communication.
For Sony, the deal will help the company demonstrate the non-gaming virtues of the Vita, which has been struggling to gain wide appeal beyond hardcore gamers.
Sony and Microsoft’s Skype division are announcing today that they are expanding Skype video calling to a portable gaming device for the first time, enabling video and voice calls on both the Wi-Fi and 3G/Wi-Fi versions of the PS Vita. Users can download the Skype app for free from the PlayStation Store later today.
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“Our users appreciate being able to access Skype features wherever and whenever they choose,” said Manrique Brenes, senior director of consumer electronics group at Skype, said in statement. “With the launch of Skype for PS Vita, we are taking another step toward our ultimate goal of making Skype video calling available on every platform, all over the world, and meeting the demands of existing PlayStation users to offer video on a gaming console.”
It’s interesting that Sony and Microsoft, which bought Skype for $8.5 billion last year, are cooperating even though they are rivals in the game business. But then, they have bigger enemies to fight, such as Apple, which has the Face Time video call service on its iOS devices.
Skype on PS Vita runs in “background mode” for users while gaming or using other applications. Users can pause a game, answer a call, and then return to the game. PS Vitas feature both front and rear cameras, so users can switch back and forth between them during a Skype call.
Twelve-time world champion video game player Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendell was one of the first users to test-drive the application.
“As a gaming enthusiast, I am always in search for a next big thing,” said Fatal1ty. “When I heard Skype was going to be featured on PS Vita, my first thought was this was going to be the device that sets the bar for all new gaming consoles — connecting with family and friends while playing your favorite game.”