The PSP2

I am ready for this rumor to be true:  The PSP2 (really, at this point the fourth iteration of the PSP) will not have a UMD drive.

I wouldn’t cry any tears if UMD went the way of Betamax, Minidisc, to some extent the Memory Stick, and any other form of proprietary format that SONY loves.  I’m just saying.

Don’t get me wrong.  I really like the two games I play on the PSP.  DJ MAX and uh. . .

I do like the fantastic screen, and the combination of Handbrake and PSPware really opened up my media options with the system.  Time shifting media that I own has been the best use of the system so far.  Subtitles are clear, and the motion is fluid and easy to watch.  Plus the camera, the one that never made it to the United States, is pretty cool.

But I am ready, so ready, for the UMD to just fail as a media format.  Never mind I have more than two dozen UMD games sitting around.   I am tired of sitting and listening to the tiny little disc spin up in its inadequate protective housing.  I think I’m ready to transition to the all digital download for games.  And to be honest, I think that SONY is ready for that transition as well.

I’m already customer of Steam, the Xbox LIVE marketplace, the PSN store, the Wii’s store, Stardock’s Impulse, and soon the DSi’s app store.  There are already titles available on the store.  Memory sticks are cheap and plentiful, and large enough to store multiple UMDs.

The fact of the matter is, I’d rather have titles available as downloads on a handheld console.  Carrying media if I want to play more than one game, no matter how small the media is, makes me not want to bring that handheld device when I’m walking out the door.  Now, I have several games on the memory stick now.  Some golf, some Echocrome, some Super Stardust portable.  The one disc I have in the drive is the Korean import DJ game.

I used to carry another case, just for UMD games, in addition to the PSP case.  It was just too much.  Now, with a few games on the Memory Stick Pro Duo, I don’t feel like I’m limited to just the game in the drive whenever I bring the PSP with me.  Now I have a choice between the games and whatever movies and television I’ve time shifted to the PSP.

There was talk about all future first party titles becoming downloads on the PSN store.  I’m just waiting for that to happen.  I’d like to pick up Locoroco 2, but as a download.  Everytime I pick up a title, it has to pass a test.  Is it compelling enough for me to overcome my dislike of the UMD format?  So far, for most games, it hasn’t been the case.

The best case scenario for SONY in this case is for them to make the entire legacy library available on the PSN store.  There’s nothing to lose.  They don’t waste any more money producing a dead format, and they effectively cut out secondhand sales.


Offer every game with a lite demo version and they’ll have a serious handheld contender.  Demos convert to sales.  And you know what else converts into sales?  Reduced pricing.

Valve recently reduced the price on Left4Dead to $25.  That’s 50% off.

What happened?  3000% increase in sales for that weekend, over numbers that had been steady since launch.  The game came out in November, and it’s barely four months old.  Granted, it’s not a fair comparison, but I’d like to see a similar experiment done with the PSN store.  There are weekly sales on Steam.  PSN pricing is hardly competitive, and during the time I’ve had a PS3, I’ve yet to see an advertised price drop of any sort.  It’s mostly static, and I’m not compelled to visit a store that hardly ever changes.  The only time I log in is when I know there’s a game I want to purchase.

I’d like to see the PSP succeed as a viable portable console.  But in order to do that, SONY needs to change the game they’ve been playing.  I’m hoping that with this rumored hardware evolution, that they are realizing that they need to change their strategy towards online downloads.  I’d like to see them convert the entire PSP library over, perhaps with reduced pricing.  The pricing issue is not too much of a stretch, they already do with some titles in Japan, there’s a lower price for the download as opposed to the retail version.

If they do these things, I’m certain that developers will start to consider the PSP as a viable console.  Instead of the dearth of titles now, we could start to see smaller, innovative titles.  Maybe even simple applications.

That, I’d like to see.