Why I’m Not OK With Sony Ditching PSP Discs

Why I’m Not OK With Sony Ditching PSP Discs

Last year, I bought a copy of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable for the PSP. I’d heard nothing but fantastic things about Atlus’s role-playing game slash high school simulator, and I figured it’d be a good opportunity to bolster my RPG street cred.

A few months later, when I finally opened the game, it gave me disc error issues. I couldn’t play more than the first few hours without my game freezing up.

No problem, I figured. My PSP-1000 is pretty old. The Vita is coming out soon. I’ll just start a new game on the new system, even if I have to pay five or 10 dollars to digitally transfer my PSP disc. No big deal.

Oops. Several weeks ago, Sony said its UMD transferring program would not be available in the U.S. The rationale?

“It’s a combination of things,” Sony head of worldwide game development Shuhei Yoshida told Kotaku at the D.I.C.E. summit this year. “Number one, demand is much stronger in Japan… The other thing is that, if you look at the library of PSP games available in the U.S., lots of games are already very cheap and affordable… When you look at the price of PSP titles, great PSP games like Final Fantasy Tactics, for $US9.99 it’s a really good deal.”

Except for the ones that aren’t good deals. Like Final Fantasy IV, which is $US30 on the PlayStation Network despite shipping for $US20 at GameStop. Or Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble, which is $US40 on the PlayStation Network and $US25 at Amazon.

Kotaku reader Deacon Ross sent in this photo showing the disparity between PlayStation Network and retail prices for Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble.

Persona 3 Portable is up there for $US40 too, a significant price leap from the $US19 it costs Japanese Vita owners to transfer their physical copies.

“So what?” you might be thinking. “This is the Vita, and all it needs to do is play Vita games. If you want to play PSP games, use your PSP.”

The problem is that Sony is marketing the Vita as the only portable device you’ll need. The PlayStation publisher has to compete for consumers’ attention in a world where multi-tasking smartphones and tablets let us game and tweet from wherever we want, whenever we want. That’s why the Vita’s interface — which is sleek, sharp, and impeccably user-friendly — is far more reminiscent of an iPhone than any game console you’ve ever seen. It lets you play music, watch videos, and even browse the web using 3G wireless Internet, if you buy that hardware version.

But by forcing loyal PSP owners — some of whom have been buying physical UMDs for the past seven years — to re-buy their old games, Sony seems to be at odds with its own message. “This is the only device you need — unless you want to play the games we sold you last year,” the company seems to be saying.

The Vita’s library of old PSP games is also fairly incomplete. Some games I would certainly like to play, like Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, are nowhere to be found on the Vita’s digital store.

Maybe one day I’ll re-buy Personal 3 Portable on my Vita. If I want to play the game, I might not really have a choice. But it’s tough to understand what Sony could possibly be thinking here — and it’s tough not to be angry about it.

Original photo: opusbei/Flickr


  • Well I always thought UMDs wouldn’t hold up which is why i’ve always brought my games digitally when I can, which probably makes me one of the very few the PSPgo could of marketed to… ‘cept you can’t really play pinball dreams on a system like that.

  • Yay, more incessant and counter productive whining about the Vita. Backwards compatibility is not a given, and if it doesn’t occur you can’t really be angry about it or make out like you’re being shafted by Sony or something.

    It’s a brand new system. You’ll still have your PSP. Stop whining.

    • If backwards compatibility isn’t a given why has very recent console bent over to offer it at launch. I think when Sony removed that functionality from the PS3 it was sign of bad things to come, and I’m glad people are bitching because I don’t want the industry to follow that trend. Not one bit.

    • i think the point he is trying to make isnt that backwards compatibility is a given, moreso, its the fact that the system actually IS backwards compatible, yet only a single country has the ability to take advantage of the UMD passport program, whilst the rest of the world gets screwed over…

      Its not like as if a UMD passport program would cost them a fortune to implement. The method, and software, already exists. The way I see it, its greed on Sony’s part.

      Take this from someone who hasnt owned a microsoft console for about 4 years, having sold my 360 to buy a PS3, owns a psp, and will be buying a Vita. In case your thinking this is another 360 fanboy shovelling dirt sonys way.

    • I’m not so sure…
      I’m not too bothered by this, but I do thinks it’s a bit of a nutpunch to offer the service to Japan and not the rest of the world. Also, the price disparity between a physical UMD for PSP and a Vita Download of the same game is pretty ridiculous.
      Like I said, not bothered, but I can understand why other people are. Seems like a poor decision by Sony.

    • Until your PSP dies of course. I own two PSPs myself mostly for this.

      I’d absolutely jump on the chance to redownload my PSP games even if I had to pay something for them. As it stands, it’s probably a cheaper option to buy another PSP rather than redownload – and repurchase – the entire library of games I’ve collected.

      I think console manufacturers need to understand that a) not everybody jumps onto new systems and don’t give a rat’s about the previous generation and b) people just don’t stop liking or wanting to play older games.

    • Ok… What if you were promised that it could? And everyone in Japan got BluRay players that could… and then yours suddenly can’t. It’s different.

      • Sony never promised that you would be able to play UMDs on the Vita they have said in the past they are looking into a transfer system but the Vita was NEVER going to play UMDs.

        • Are you guys insane??? how can you justify and support Sony’s decision to allow a single country to transfer their UMD’s while everyone else gets screwed over?!?!?

          • Cos i haven’t been screwed over i still have my PSP i can play my UMDs whenever i want…..its not the 1st time japan gets stuff the rest of the world don’t and it wont be the last.

          • I really think your missing the point.

            It’s not the lack of backwards compatibility; nor wether you can or cant play a game. It’s the lack of Global support from a global company. TBH, personally I don’t really have an issue purchasing a game again if I want to play it on the Vita (with the $$ I spend already on my habit it’s a drop in the ocean).
            Its simply the fact that I have to spend more than someone else purely based on Location or nationality is shitty though. It leaves a bitter taste and creates the resentment to Sony.

          • “Its simply the fact that I have to spend more than someone else purely based on Location or nationality is shitty though. It leaves a bitter taste and creates the resentment to Sony.”

            Man as Aussie gamers its nothing new we pay more all the time my problem is the writer breaks his PSP and is now upset he cant play his game so he then writes some fluff piece about UMDs being useless…which is bullshit…..like i said japan is always gonna get stuff we dont and that just par for the course. Is it disappointing…maybe but its a mole hill not a mountain.

          • I don’t give 2 shits if the UMDs get phased out and like I said, it’s NOT the lack of backwards compatibility or someones broken PSP.
            The resentment here is from the regional support they offer to some and not others.
            Saying “japan is always gonna get stuff we dont and that just par for the course” doesn’t negate the shitty nature of it. Because its happening already does not make it right or fair.

            And your line that “As Aussie gamers its nothing new we pay more all the time” line just highlights the inequality.

  • You know, if your PSP is broken its hardly Sonys fault. They do get sold rather cheap and can always buy a new one.

    (Note: I am aware he’s not going to see this but it applies to everyone whinging about this.)

    • Problem is, not all PSPs are created equal.. Each model has its up and downs, and quite frankly, the Phat and the original lite are the too I have been told are the best.

      My mates PSP has died and he is in the situation now where he has to track down and find one of those models – or buy the new model which has no WiFi. Not exactly a great situation..

      • the reason people say the 1000’s and 2000’s are the best is that all the 1000’s can be fully hacked as well as some of the 2000’s, but with hen’s it is not that important any more.

  • Thr service is available in Japan so that’s why it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth. Especially seeing as games like ff4 are more appealing to buy on umd cause of the collectors packaging.

    • You can buy used womens undies in vending machines at service stations in Japan. You cant in the US or Australia.

      Different markets , if it is not profitable then why should a company be forced to do it elsewhere.

      • This would make little profit if any in japan also. Its more about customer satisfaction and percieved value than direct profit.
        Of course you are right that this would be a purely $$ based decision by Sony. They obviously don’t see it as necessary outside of Japan and think Vita will sell the units they want without this added expense. From a business POV I cant fault a company thats posting loses for trying to save money.
        … I can be disappointed from a consumer standpoint though 🙂

  • “Here are the first 275 PSP titles ready to be downloaded onto PS Vita. Don’t worry if you don’t see your favorite title here now; more PSP titles will be made available for PS Vita play in the coming weeks. We’ll keep this list current and let you know when updates are made.”

    Your article is a waste of internet,play your UMD on your PSP….if you wanna play PSP games on the VIita then download them digitally…

  • I agree with the article’s points. However all you have to do is take a look back and see that this is just Sony being Sony. Nintendo is the one that delivers on backwards compatibility.

    • To be fair, they just re-release the same game over and over again with a different suffix, aka: Skyward Sword.

      OH HO HO HO.

      PS: Tongue in cheek. But funny.

      • Heh, that is pretty funny actually. Bottom line is don’t expect Sony to do backwards compatibility. Their track record is pretty poor;
        PS1 to PS2: Sort of, not all titles work.
        PS2 to PS3: 60GB model only.
        PS1 to PS3: Sort of, not all titles work. My FFVIII doesn’t play.

  • “The problem is that Sony is marketing the Vita as the only portable device you’ll need.”

    If that were true it would also be a phone. Apart from the GPS it seems to have pretty much all the necessary hardware already.

  • So if the market in Japan is so big and Sony did that passport program there but not in other territories where it didn’t do so well (and let face it they need them on side atm if they want this thing to sell after the disappointing Japan sale figures) where it would cost LESS to implement? Really?

  • If you have a large enough UMD collection and your PSP is dying it might be cheaper to just buy one of those cheap PSPs they have now rather than rebuying them as digital.

  • I understand his point. I’d definitely prefer to have all my PSP games on a memory card playable on Vita rather than lug around a UMD wallet and my chunky old launch PSP.
    Although PSP’s are cheap and all that, if I upgrade my console to something fancy-pants which has the hardware to play PSP games, I would hope I’d be able to transfer them. And if it’s not a direct transfer, at least be able to buy them again for a nominal fee.
    Sony don’t HAVE to do it, no, but SHOULD they do it? In an ideal world the answer is yes – but it’s not, so they’re not.

  • Where is the article about not being able to copy your Persona 3 PS2 game to your PSP or PSV? What is this sense of entitlement that everyone seems to have with games now?
    Did it say anywhere on the box that it was compatible with the PSV? NO! So shut the F@CK up.

    • I think its fairly justified in this situation. Lots of people have been asking the question of what happens to there UMD library in the future, and Sony has responded to everyone the same “Look into a transfer program”. Fact of the matter is, Sony offered this service to Japan, had been telling everyone they are looking into doing it, then a couple of weeks from US launch announced the US and the rest of the world would not be getting this.

      To me, this is a key feature and what would make the Vita a good buy. And Sony hasnt given one clear concise reason as to why this isnt available to anyone outside the US. I think people honestly have a right to be upset, ive evern seen reviewers comment on how good their PSP games look on the japanese systems.. Now, other owners get shafted, unlike your scenario where no one was promised ever to get PS2 games on the PSP..

  • I posted this elsewhere but it’s relevant: this sucks twice as hard for us in Australia, because we have a fraction of the availability that the US does and are charged a lot more for the games we have on offer. I went through my collection of UMDs and checked out the digital prices on the AU and US PSN stores:

    – Daxter – N/A / $16 US
    – Disgaea – $22 AU / $15 US
    – Disgaea 2 – $30 AU / $20 US
    – Dissidia – $42 AU / $20 US
    – Jeanne D’Arc – N/A / $23 US
    – Killzone Liberation – N/A / $16 US
    – Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky – $55 AU / $20 US
    – Locoroco – $10 AU / $23 US (yeah, weird)
    – Patapon – N/A / $16 US
    – Persona 2 – N/A / $40 US
    – Persona 3 Portable – $50 AU / $40 US
    – Pololocrois – N/A / N/A
    – Prinny – $16 AU / $9 US
    – Tactics Ogre – $30 AU / $20 US
    – Tales of Eternia – N/A / N/A
    – Star Ocean – N/A / N/A
    – Star Ocean 2 – N/A / N/A
    – Valkyria Chronicles 2 – $55 AU / $40 US
    – Valkyrie Profile Lenneth – N/A / N/A
    – Yggdra Union – N/A / $15 US

    Of course this wasn’t much of a surprise, it’s always been the case and even if we’d had the passport system that Japan got, we’d still only be able to be re-buy games that are actually on PSN, which in the PAL case is not many (and in AU’s case it’s a selection of about 80-90% of the PAL set). So if you’re a long-standing PSP owner with a decent library of UMD games, be prepared to keep your PSP around. That’s just how it us, unfortunately, and the passport system wouldn’t have helped with that.

    If they want digital sales of PSP games to have any sort of presence on Vita, Sony are going to need to encourage third parties to improve availability and decrease price across the board for these, because they’re really going to struggle to justify $55 for a digital copy of a PSP game when you can buy actual Vita games for less.

    • Eternia’s not on the PSN :(, also Tales of Eternia was never released in the US.

      Kingdom Hearts BBS and Crisis Core aren’t on there either

      • On the flipside, Jeanne D’Arc was never released here because of some controversy involving France or something. Also Persona 2 should be arriving on our PSN in the next week or two (for $55 like TitS I imagine).

        What’s strange is the fact we’re missing games like Killzone and Daxter, which were big Sony-published games. My collection does skew toward the JRPG niche fairly heavily but the “not on PSN” curse hits all games equally. 🙁

    • At least in America/Japan, the vita releases are around 10% cheaper digitally. The psp is still selling strongly in Japan, so they needed to offer more backwards compatibility to entice people to go to the vita instead of the PSP. The writing was on the wall for UMDs when movie studios and the PSPGO dropped support for them.

      Go back to the days before PS1 and PS2, and the idea of backwards compatibility was considered absurd. EG SMS->MegaDrive(unless you paid $50 for the converter)->Saturn; NES->SNES->N64. Sony’s backwards compatibility had a large impact on the market.

      • 10% off is still way to small a percentage. For no disc, manual, case, resell or collectable value etc it should be much more % off to be a viable option.

  • That aside, I agree the PSP PSN in Australia is terrible. So many games I wanted to buy that either took 3-6months to come out in Australia after the US or just never came out.

  • I don’t see why people feel entitled to UMD passport, nor why so many are so hung up on backwards compatibility. Japan has a much higher attachment of PSP and this has governed the decision to do the Passport system there. Sure it would be nice for the rest of us to get it, but after Sony couldn’t organise it for the PSP-Go, I wasn’t expecting it for the Vita.

    I was “lucky” enough to get a Go from SCE for promotion, but for 2 subsequent years, only ever got promos in UMD form. Luckily I still had a P1000 Phatty Boombatty. If Sony themselves (and the other suppliers for that matter) actually think its better to print UMDs than give promo codes for DL, it’s hard to see their enthusiasm in getting behind digital distribution.

    I appreciate that there are a lot of ins-and-outs with ratings and costings even for digital distribution, which contribute to release decisions. Still, it would be helpful to streamline the regionalised online stores.

    On the other side of this, do many people actually want to play older games on new hardware, or do we just demand a feature that will again go underused? PS2/PSP games look awful on HDTVs- as they would on a Vita, and I’m unsure people are willing to be paying for ‘unnecessary’ hardware to utilise their hypothetical back catalogue. See SCE’s rapid ditching of the 60GB PS3. And do we have a right to expect free or discounted copies of intellectual property we already have, only in a different yet older and outmoded format?

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