February 22 isn’t that far off, but if you (like me) really can’t wait that long, then read on for the Past the Pixels guide to importing a PS Vita. I’ll take you through the best place to order your console, memory card pricing, setting up a foreign PSN account to download titles, and exactly how much a launch title will cost with the official SRP of every launch game that’ll be on the Hong Kong Playstation Network for download.
Note: The following instructions are all steps I have taken myself to import my own Vita console into the UK.
Where should I buy my PS Vita from?
There’s a few companies offering the console at the moment, however two of the safest options are Play-Asia.com and videogameimports.com. Both of these reputable companies are still taking orders for consoles, but supplies are very limited. After weighing up my options I went with UK-based videogameimports.com, who have been importing games and consoles for their customers since the 90s. They say they should have your console to you by December 23, a nice early Christmas present.
How much will the console cost me?
In total, you’re looking at around £400 for just a console. Importing isn’t cheap so you’re paying a premium to have the console before anyone else. Play-Asia are advertising the Wi-fi model at £338.31. Factor in postage and the possibility of being charged import tax when it arrives at your door, and it becomes a lot pricier.
For this reason I went with Videogameimports, who do the hard work of importing the console then post it on to you from their Middlesborough base. Their price is £399 for the console, not cheap but there’s no hidden costs. They also have a decent selection of games and memory cards that can be added to your order and their special delivery service should see your console arrive with you the day after it arrives in the country.
What’s the best way to buy games?
There’s two options here: Buy a game card along with your console, or organise a foreign PSN account and fund it through PSN points cards. Option one is the most straightforward, Play-Asia’s prices for all Vita titles are here. Videogameimports offers all the major launch titles, but stock is very limited so don’t linger too long deciding on a title.
On Videogameimports, Uncharted is £63.99, Ridge Racer is £42.99 and Everybody’s Golf is £53.99. Somewhat steep, but bear in mind that ordering this way means there’s no chance of being charged import tax when the games arrive. The rest of the launch titles available for pre-order can be seen on the right side of this page.
Option two involves creating either a JAP or HK Playstation Network account and arranging funding through pre-paid cards. It involves a lot more legwork but it should prove the cheaper option, especially if you’re already planning on buying a memory card. This is the option I decided on, as I feel it will work out ever so slightly cheaper and if any demos are released (Dynasty Warriors Next has been confirmed) on the store then I’m all set to download them.
Firstly, I’d recommend creating a Hong Kong PSN account rather than a JAP one. The HK PSN store will have all the JAP games, and some English language launch games, the biggest of these being Uncharted. Although no Vita games will arrive on the HK store til December 23 (the HK launch date), every game already on this store (PS3, PSP, Classics) is clearly marked at what language it is in. I’d imagine the PS Vita titles will follow this same structure, so you’ll know exactly what you’re downloading. As we don’t know for certain what JAP titles will include other language options, having a HK account helps us a little more.
Creating a HK store account is easy, I used this guide to create mine in less than 5 minutes, but there are loads of Youtube videos on how to create one. Once created, you’ll need to now get some funds into your PSN Wallet. Sadly, credit/debit cards won’t work due to the billing address not being in Hong Kong, so it’s got to be pre-paid cards ordered from specialist importers. How much money will you need? Check out the below table from Playstation Asia for prices.
So we’re talking just under HK$400 for most of the big titles. Play-Asia offers HK$200 pre-paid PSN cards, so two of these cards is enough for a launch title. I bought two of these cards and paid for courier postage, which worked out at a £52 Paypal payment. The cards should arrive in plenty time before my console too. As my console should arrive on Dec 23, the same day as the HK launch, factoring in time-zone differences I’ll be able to download a launch game most likely from around mid-day on December 22.
Do I need a memory card?
A memory card isn’t essential, but three of the main launch games (Uncharted, Ridge Racer and Hot Shots Gold) won’t play without one. Given that almost anyone ordering a Vita will want one of these three games, it does then mean that you’re kind of forced into buying one. If you plan on downloading a game from either the JAP or HK Playstation Network, then a memory card is obviously required. Both Play-Asia and videogameimports offer memory cards of varying sizes.
Play-Asia prices for the two cheapest memory cards: A 4GB memory card will set you back £23.19 whereas an 8GB memory card is £31.25. Videogameimports have a 4GB card at £29.99 and the 8GB at £39.99. The 8GB at £39.99 seems a decent starter, as when the system launches in the UK in February, you can always pick up a bigger memory card. If you order your console and memory card with Videogameimports, then both should arrive with you on the same day.
Accessories are available from Play-Asia now, screen protectors, carry cases and the usual launch peripherals are all there. According to Play-Asia the Vita will ship with an AC adapter, which suggests that power supply issues shouldn’t arise, no need for step-down converters here.
You’ll want to keep that beautiful OLED touch-screen safe, so a screen protector is a wise choice. Instead of paying for a pricy official one, I’ve gone with ordering a good quality Kindle screen protector. No you read that right, bear with me! Once my console arrives I’ll simply cut the protector to size. It’s a decent makeshift screen protector until more custom-fit protectors are released.
So there we have it, that’s how to go about importing a Vita into the UK. If you really want one (and have about £500 in cash to do so) then I wouldn’t hang around as stock is very low. Videogameimports anticipate a rush of orders once people start to see Youtube vids pop up over the Christmas period, so if you wait til January you might end up disappointed. Need anything else cleared up? Leave a comment, send an email or drop me a question on Twitter.