Sony Abandons UMDs in Japan

By Mike on 6:45 pm

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I think we've long suspected this. The Universal Media Disc has not been an astoundingly successful component of the PSP. As mobile storage formats go, optical discs are far from being ideal. While UMDs can store a lot, they were plagued by slow load times and are bulkier compared to Nintendo DS flash cards. At the Tokyo Game Show, Sony has announced that all future PSP titles released in Japan will be download only. So far, there is no word when Sony's other major territories, namely Europe and North America, will receive the same treatment. The games are presumed to be priced the same as current UMD based titles and downloadable PSP games that are already available.

Thus is today's major debate in gaming. Downloadable games have numerous advantages compared to traditional disc based media. However, they also present gamers with some issues regarding ownership. First of all, the big draw with downloadable games is instant gratification. The games can be bought at any time of day, any day of the week. There are no lines, no sold out titles. There are no discs to store, load, and care for. The big issue for me is the fact that there's question as to what the gamer actually owns in the end. With traditional media, I own the disc even if I don't technically own what's on it. I like the idea of having something tangible, which is why I've tended to shy away from downloadable games unless they're cheap. With downloadable versions, I own nothing. The problem is there's nothing stopping companies from putting strict DRM restrictions on these titles, limiting them from being backed up. We all know hard drives and solid state drives fail but they also have finite amounts of storage, limiting how many you can have. Traditional media is only limited by how much storage space you have, and discs take up far less room on a shelf then the game does on a hard drive. If DRM prevents backup, you could be forced to redownload titles. That segues into the next issue which asks what if Sony decided to pull the game from its download server. You might not be able to redownload lost or deleted copies. While disc media may be clunkier and less convenient, it still remains the superior form of game storage due to what I have just noted.

Another thing worth noting is the PSP's own storage abilities. Common 1gb MSPD cards may only be able to store one, perhaps two games. So not only are you buying the games, likely at the same cost as the UMD versions, but you have to buy memory cards to store them on. The Memory Stick Pro Duo still remains the most expensive flash cards on the market dollar-gigabyte. Secure Digital cards with the same capacity may sell for as little as half the price of Memory Sticks. If Sony wants this to work, they really need to cut the cost of their proprietary flash cards to bring them in line with their competition. Personally, I think Sony should keep the UMD and follow the same route they've done with the PS3. Release games in both downloadable and disc versions to give the consumer a choice. My last piece of advice to them would be to follow the DS's lead with the PSP2 by releasing games on flash cards, thus eliminating the problems with both disc and downloadable formats.

Source: Playstation Universe

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