Tuesday, February 7, 2012

No Surprise - No UMD Passport Program for the West

Near has nothing to do with this, but we have different Vita pics, so I'm using them.
So, with the release of the Vita being counted in days rather than months now, the lack of a UMD Passport system announcement for us in the West was rather telling, but it seems like it's officially not happening.  It's disappointing to be sure, but given that it was mostly a Developer/Publisher-side thing, the fact that they're not willing to bother is not so much of a surprise.  Nor is it a surprise that the general populace of the internet isn't comprehending that it's not really a Sony issue, nor is it something Sony can do themselves.  As I stated in the above-linked post, Sony as an entity cannot give you digital versions of games that are not theirs to give.  Which is roughly 98% of the games on the store if not more because even the first-party games aren't developed by Sony, they're developed by first-party studios who are their own entity.  It's rather absurd to blame this solely on Sony, but the internet is quick to do that regardless, so we shouldn't be too surprised.

The program, as it turns out, hasn't been doing too hot in Japan either, as several big-name devs/pubs who have tokenly signed on with the program still haven't put their money where their mouths are, leaving a lot, if not all, of their games out of the program entirely still.  So the sentiment that 'at least Japan has the option' that you'll see in a lot of comments about this story isn't even all that founded.  If anything here, that's the surprising bit since PSP sales actually did -well- in Japan, though not digitally which could be the rub, I suppose.  Japan might be more keen on keeping their PSPs and playing UMDs than bothering with getting a digital copy, even if it is cheap.  Couple that with the fact that some of the big names aren't putting their games up for cheap in the Passport Program and that is something of a recipe for disaster.

Once again, I kind of have to point the blame at Steam/Valve for setting up a digital distribution hub that seems to work outside of reality, though at the same time, I imagine licensing and such for a PC game is much less stringent than for a console/handheld game.  It's hard to point at a PC game that isn't offered on Steam, at least a well-known one, so it's hard to even draw a direct correlation, but it's the same theory.  We'll use Star Wars:  The Old Rebublic, I guess, since it's Origin-exclusive (technically) and it's about all I can think of.  Is anyone blaming Valve for TOR not being available through Steam?  No, the blame is on EA.  Oh, here's one, is anyone blaming Valve for Minecraft not being available through Steam?  No, that's on Mojang.  Or, if we're showing off the general internet mindset, it's all Notch's fault.  (It's not all Notch's fault)

It's the same theory here; Valve cannot sell you a game that the Developer/Publisher isn't letting Valve sell you.  Sony cannot sell you a game or a digital version of a game you already own that the Developer/Publisher isn't letting them sell through the Playstation store.  And, I have to reiterate, sometimes it's not even the fault of the Developer/Publisher in so much as they're not willing.  If anything, it'd be their fault for not including clauses that account for future digital distribution, but such foresight wasn't common to have even a few years ago, so it's hard to point the finger there.  Bottom line, it is a rather unfortunate situation that everyone's involved in, and while a Passport System would have been nice, it just isn't going to happen for a multitude of reasons.  Very few of them are actually Sony's direct fault.  If we want our PSP games on the store and/or for a discount, throw it on the Pub/Dev to do so.

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