By Jared Newman | Friday, September 25, 2009 at 2:02 pm
Those who want in on Sony’s download-only PSP Go will have to leave their disc-based games behind, as there won’t be any way to convert games from UMD to digital form.
Delivering the bad news to Kotaku, Sony said that “due to legal and technical reasons we will not be offering the program at this time.” Sony didn’t elaborate on its reasons, but I can take a crack at it:
When Sony announced the PSP Go at E3 this year, John Koller, Sony’s hardware marketing director, said that a “good will program” to convert UMDs would be announced soon. There was speculation that retailers would convert UMD games through kiosks at their stores.
That sounds good in theory, but in practice it’s a nightmare. If a store such as Gamestop kept the UMDs after every conversion, it wouldn’t take long before stores become overwhelmed with used PSP games. The value of those games would plummet, forcing Gamestop to lower its prices, which I’m sure it doesn’t want to do.
Then, there are the game publishers, who’d have to agree on letting their UMD-based games get copied into digital form. That’s messy enough from a legal standpoint, but it has no benefits as a business proposition. Unless Sony planned to pay publishers for their cooperation, digital conversion would only amount to a lost sale, with retailers selling the used UMD copies instead of new ones (at greatly reduced prices, mind you).
In the end, I doubt there was enough “good will” from all parties involved to push a conversion program through. I’m reminded of how Sony once promised that the Playstation 3 would be backwards compatible with Playstation 2 games, only to have that support erode steadily over the years.
Adding insult to injury for U.S. customers, there’s a rewards program in Europe where existing PSP owners will get three free games for buying and registering their PSP Go. That program won’t come stateside, as a Sony representative explained that the U.S. has a “dual platform strategy.” In other words, don’t upgrade.