Sony has confirmed Patapon 2 for PSP is going on sale as download-only title in the US, with no UMD version going to retailers. It’s described as a “test case” to gauge player’s interest in digital only content.
Last week, an alleged insider revealed that Sony’s PSP 2 was setting its sights on the iPhone, not just through the use of touchscreen, but through an all-digital download service via Sony’s PlayStation Store, which would take on iTunes and Nintendo’s DSiWare.
Moving away from UMD to downloads is a logical move. It has a number of advantages for Sony, in terms of reducing distribution and packaging costs, enabling players to shop directly from their handhelds and effectively killing off the second-hand games trade. It could also help to shore up the device against piracy, which runs nearly as rampant on the PSP as it does on the Nintendo DS.
Of course, it will leave games retailers in a bit of pickle as they won’t have anything to sell. For the moment, Sony will continue to support retailers by supplying Patapon 2 via a download code packed inside a normal game box.
It’s not really an ideal solution though – in the long term, it’s unlikely that many people will be happy to hike all the way to the shops, only to come and home and be forced to wait even longer while the game they’ve just bought is downloaded.
And Sony will need to keep the games retailers sweet. Cutting out the middle man might seem appealing, but those stores are essential for getting the consoles into gamers’ hands in the first place. A more ideal solution would be to provide the games on a Memory Stick, or to allow retailers to provide super-fast downloads of the games in-store.