One of the best things about owning a PlayStation Vita is having access to many PSP legacy titles. In Japan, Sony introduced the UMD Passport system to allow gamers to purchase their physical PSP titles at a discount from the PlayStation Store. This program has been absent in Europe and North America and now we finally know why.
Speaking to Wired, Sony's President of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida says there were two main contributing factors. The first being that in Japan there is a much higher demand for PSP titles than in the States. If one looks at the release schedule for the PSP in Japan, there are still plenty of games coming out, whereas in North America, it's (relatively) barren with Gungir and Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time being the only two PSP titles that come to mind as upcoming releases in the next few months, as well as Grand Knights History.
"Lots of people who are interested in trying Vita are also interested in playing PSP games that they might purchase before Vita comes out, and will not necessarily choose the digital version."
The second reason is that in North America, PSP games are priced at a more reasonable amount. In Japan, PSP titles are sold at a much higher price, meaning there's more value in being able to purchase the digital version. After all, there are many PSP games on the PlayStation Store that are priced below $20, some of which can even be found at only $5. Chances are that Sony doesn't seem to think there's much of a necessity for the UMD Passport, even despite outliers like Persona 3 still being $39.99.
"The other point is that when you look at PSP titles sold digitally in the States or Europe, games are sold for a really reasonable price. You can buy Final Fantasy Tactics for $10. That’s a great price. There are many, many games that are sold at an affordable price. Because people in Japan are not getting the digital copy for free, because it costs us money to develop and maintain the system so we are asking people to pay somewhere between $5 and $10 to receive the digital copy in addition to what they have on the UMD. When you compare that to the price of games here, PSP games in Japan are sold at a much higher price, so people see the value in spending the $5 to $10 to get the digital copy. But when the games are already sold at a lower price in the U.S. we see less value in introducing that kind of system. The combination of the new titles available, or the lack of, and the price difference, the company decided to do that."
It would have been great to have the UMD Passport in North America, especially for those who want to own a physical copy of a game yet also prefer the convenience of digital. It's hard to argue with Sony's reasoning though, considering most digital games are already priced reasonably well. Let's just hope we start seeing more discounts on still full priced PSP games to make up for it.
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