Note: As a preface, let me say that the following news is regarding Sony's plan for Japan which, god willing, will serve as a harbinger of things to come for those on this side of the pond.
As regular readers of the site probably know, I'm not tremendously fond of the UMD format. With loading times that range from "annoying, but tolerable" to "interminable," coupled with a noise that sound like a mechanical cat coughing up a hairball, It's a bit of a bother. One can perhaps justify their existence by noting that the PSP's raw power needed some sort of optical media. More importantly, much as lousy PS3 games make fantastic drink coasters, UMDs do the same for shot glasses - on a related note, had I taken a shot for every time I came a across a loading screen in Metal Slug Anthology (which all of you should own), my late afternoon game session would have found me dead from alcohol poisoning by, well, late afternoon.
Still, while altogether vulgar, UMDs do offer the convenience of physical media, and despite the fact that I commend Sony for taking the format out back behind the shed and giving it the Old Yeller treatment, it does beg the question of what will happen to your PSP games on Vita, which favors memory cards over optical media. So what about those (like myself) who have stacks of these things? The good news is that you may get something for your old UMDs. Sony will be releasing a free "Passport" app for the PSP on December 6th, which will allow users to register their games and become eligible for a discount on the digital version of the same title. According to Joystiq, "The repurchase price varies from game to game, but it averages between 500 and 1,000 yen ($6 to $13), going as high as ¥2,400 ($31)." Another issue stems from digital distribution itself: Despite the rather basic logic that with lower manufacturing costs should come lower prices, there is often no difference between physical and digital copies of a game; in fact, with used games (and odd little pricing anomalies), digital copies can some times than their UMD counterparts. To address this, Sony is indeed planning lower prices for downloadable titles.
Read more after the jump!
1up has the rundown:
Uncharted: Golden Abyss will be available in Japan for 5,980 yen ($78) in stores while the downloadable version will sell for 4,900 yen ($64), according to Andriasang. Hot Shots Golf 6 will cost 4,980 yen ($65) in stores and 3,980 yen ($52) online.
Square Enix had previously announced a discount for its upcoming Army Corps of Hell. The physical game's price is set at 4,980 yen ($65), while a downloadable version will run for 3,990 yen ($52).
Namco Bandai will make the digital versions of at least two titles even more attractive by temporarily dropping their prices. Ridge Racer will cost 3,980 yen ($52) in stores and 3,580 yen ($47) on PSN. From launch through March 31, 2012, however, the digital version will cost only 2,980 yen ($39). Katamari Damacy will cost 4,980 yen ($65) in stores and 4,480 yen ($58) on PSN, but until March 31 the digital version will be 3,980 yen ($52).
As for your game saves, Andriasang reports some rather welcome news:
You'll be able to transfer your PSP saves to your Vita. The transfer can be done through the PS Vita Content Management program on your PS3 or PC. In the case of a PC, you'll need to install a program called "Content Management Assistant for PlayStation." This will be released later via the PlayStation.jp site. (Sony didn't say this, but the PS3 content management program will presumably be added to the system via firmware update).
So there you go, Sony's grand plan for a UMD-less world. Again, I haven't found any solid confirmation that this will make its way to the States and Europe, but a boy can hope that the program, or at the very least, something similar, will materialize come the Vita's release. If so, those planning on purchasing the 3G model will be subject to the 20MB download limit (thus making PSP downloads impossible); but as my creepy youth pastor always told me, "That's why God invented wifi, sexy."