Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida has outlined the reasons behind the failure of the UMD Passport System to make the jump to the US and America. SCEA issued a statement earlier this month saying that the UMD Passport would not be available in the US and Yoshida has now confirmed that will be the case for Europe too, explaining that regional price points and the soaring popularity of the PSP in Japan had a part to play in the decision.
Yoshida first made the point that the PSP is more popular in Japan, that there are still plenty of games being released for the system, even now the Vita has been out for a couple of months.
“The system has been introduced in Japan, where there is a much larger demand for PSP games," he said, speaking to Wired. "When you look at the release schedule of new titles there are still lots of PSP games being released in Japan and being announced for release. 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. So there is a lot more demand to introduce a program like that."
He also suggested that regional price points had a part to play, with prices in the West significantly lower than those in Japan, arguing that there would have been little point in introducing the Passport into regions where game prices were already low.
“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.”
Yoshida also said that the PS Suite is still coming, witha limited number of developers already working away with the SDK, and he acknowledged the growing demand from the community for PS1 games.
“The goal was, we get all PSP downloadable games to work on PS Vita, and the PS1 games to work on PS Vita. From a PSP emu standpoint, we are almost there. Ninety-plus percent of PSP PSN games are already on the Japanese store to download,” he said.
“And the team is focusing on getting the U.S. and European launch as good in terms of coverage of the PSP titles on the store. So that’s the focus. Because of that, we are really trying for a high percent of the PSP games to go on the PS Vita for launch in the U.S. and Europe. After that we will shift focus to get PS1 games on PS Vita.”