Pay to play your old games on Vita

The long running joke in the video games world is that Nintendo are often re-selling the same game over and over again by way of re-packaging or re-distributing. I mean, how many times have you bought Super Mario Bros.? A new version of this is the HD remake which Sony have adopted as their go to solution for selling old content and that’s fine, most of the games are classics and should be experienced by new audiences. However Sony’s solution for current PSP owners to be able to play their UMD games on the UMD-less PSVita isn’t exactly ideal. Or all that fair.

According to Kotaku, Sony are to launch something called the UMD Passport service on the 6th December in Japan where the UMD Registration App will become available for PSPs. Once downloaded you fire up the handheld, insert a game disc and register it through your PSN account. After said stages, the game will be available to download – for a price. Yep, in order to play your old games on a PSVita, you’ll have to pay anywhere between 80p (¥100) and £19 (¥2400) depending on the title. The former is much more palatable than the latter. At the moment, 40 publishers have signed up to the program offering 200 games with the average price looking to hover at £8 (¥1000). Games like Gran Turismo and DiRT 2 for example.

It should be known that the prices mentioned are discounted and those 200 games will cost more to download for people who don’t already own the UMD but it does make me question why there is any cost at all. If the price was one set fee I could understand that. I could be told it was to cover admin and the cost of setting up this scheme in the first place but differing prices just looks like previous supporters of a product are getting screwed. Sony have also covered their butts when it comes to the prospect of piracy as once a UMD is registered with an account, it can’t be passed on and registered to another allowing more than one owner to receive the discount (via Andriasang).

But hey, on the plus side the scheme also works for the PSPgo meaning finally owners of that ill-fated downloadable-only hardware can play the games which never came to PSN in the first place.

A shift in thinking

There are so many video games getting released nowadays it’s hard not only to keep up with everything you want to play but also finding the money to pay for them all. The two solutions to this are both frowned upon by developers for taking away potential profits. The first, renting, sees only a handful of games bought by a distributer but never the same as if those who rented actually went out and picked it up themselves. Second is the pre-owned market, a practice loathed by many publishers. But ceo of Saber Interactive (makers of Timeshift), Matthew Karch, believes the industry has only itself to blame because the cost of retail releases are far too high for the average consumer. To him, digital distribution is the way forward because the £40/$60 price tag becomes an immediate barrier for entry, especially if you’re spending a few hundred quid on a new console or PC.

“People in our industry are in a panic about used games, but honestly, can you blame people for playing a game and then trying to get some value back out of it? The only way for many gamers to currently play multiple AAA games is to shell out quite a bit of money and that definitely limits our consumer base.” I agree, paying full price for a game can be hard to justify but Karch’s comments to CVG come on the same day that EA announce how last Friday’s release of Crysis 2 has become the publisher’s biggest UK launch so far, beating Dead Space 2, Dragon Age II and Bulletstorm. While some may feel like trading the game in after completion – or even before – the £40/$60 price wasn’t enough to put those consumers off in the first place.

Karch adds: “If you want to reach an audience that is not accustomed to spending or can’t spend that kind of money, then you need to give them an alternative. I think this also applies to our core audience. Smaller, high quality digital downloads are a great way to do that. It not only provides people with games that they might actually finish, but it also enables them to play a variety of titles.” The target audience in question is quite important to the argument. Referencing those who aren’t accustomed to spending the normal price for games aren’t necessarily the kinds of gamer who are hesitant to spend vast sums of money to fuel their habit. It’s become an accepted normality to pay around 40 quid for a game and has been for the core market for a good number of generations. I remember paying £60 for Mortal Kombat II on the SNES back in the 90s so for me, games have come down considerably in price while offering a great deal more in terms of longevity.

But Karch does point out the powerful draw of the sequel due to such high development costs. He states how expensive it is to make, manufacture and market a game can be resulting in less innovation from developers who are keen to pump out the next Call of Warfare, Modern Shooter. Karch hopes that markets like XBLA and PSN begin to see more “high end” games that are smaller in size and cost to the consumer. It’ll be interesting if this does indeed happen because the downloadable space has been very profitable for a number of publishers though still the debate about a game’s length is called into question. Limbo was chastised by a small number of people for being “only four hours” and costing around £10/$15. I believed Limbo was worth every penny.

I don’t know if the future of games, more specifically triple A shooters, will become smaller, cheaper downloadable releases. With all the competition from mobile Apps costing a little as 59p, full retail titles are still incredibly popular with publishers announcing record-breaking numbers seemingly every month. The numbers may indeed be falling but there are various initiatives in place to counteract the fall including preventions to buy pre-owned games and strong advertising campaigns. If anything, I’d be more likely to pay full price for a game that gives me value for money be it a superb single player campaign leading onto a full featured multiplayer mode or just a lengthy adventure RPG. I’d be reluctant to only have shorter, easily absorbable experiences even if it does save me a lot of money. I think Karch does have a point that games need to offer more in order to stay in gamers’ houses but I’m not sure if this is the way to do it.

Dead Space Ignition free with pre-orders

If you decide to pre-order Dead Space 2 from either Game or Gamestation, EA will give you Dead Space Ignition for free, Eurogamer reports. The downloadable prequel would normally costs 400 MS Points (£3.43/€4.80) or £4.99 on PSN when it’s released this Wednesday but securing a copy of Dead Space 2 from one of the two retailers does away with the need for money.

What’s nice about this initiative is that it’s content which is available to everybody and not just those who pre-ordered. Especially since the story of the comic-styled adventure from DSI should keep the continuity between Dead Space 1 and 2 so limiting the audience wouldn’t do EA any favours.

Dead Space 2 is out January 28th 2011 and its prequel, Dead Space Ignition comes to Xbox 360 and PS3 Wednesday October 13th.

Dungeon Hunter becomes a PS3 exclusive

Mobile developers Gameloft haven’t shied away from developing titles for home consoles and now they’re taken one of their own IPs and giving it the once over (quite possibly more to be honest), making it good for an exclusive PS3 downloadable. The Diablo inspired Dungeon Hunter hacked its way through the iPhone and soon will be part of the PSN lineup with lots and new improvements making it an almost new experience. The art-style has had a significant boost and not just because of the high definition aspect either. The screenshots (more after the break) and report from GamerBytes suggest that Dungeon Hunter now has a touch of the hugely popular Torchlight about it. Character creation comes into play with gamers crafting their own hero through the traditional experience points over 30 plus levels and a multiplayer component has also been added. Play both online and off with up to three other dungeon hunters taking on the giant spiders and trolls that aren’t too keen of your existence.

When is it out? Sadly no date has been announced yet or a price for that matter but rest assured Dungeon Hunter will be available on your PS3s soon.

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