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.

The PSVita may support older games and last longer than five hours

Back in June, a Japanese research company asked a collection of potential 3DS owners why they weren’t buying the handheld. The number one reason was its cost and now that’s been cut so dramatically, presumably some of those questioned are now owners of Nintendo’s new handheld. That is unless it was the weak battery life which put them off. It was number nine on the list and the actual gameplay time Nintendo say is capable on the 3DS is between three and eight hours.

Not quite the seemingly endless amount previous DS systems could run for but it may just end up being longer than what the PSVita can do. As part of the 2011 Tokyo Game Show, Sony has announced that its new portable machine will last somewhere between three and five hours depending on what you’re doing on it. If you’re offline, have the screen brightness at default, refrain from using Bluetooth and the built-in speakers opting for headphones instead, consumers should expect three to five hour gaming sessions. If you fancy oggling a film or two on the rather nice OLED display, the PSVita tops around five hours and for music alone it’s more like nine hours.

Though not quite the numbers wanted, there’s only so much a humble rechargeable battery can do and the PSVita is certainly a powerful beast. It’s a shame that from what Sony are saying, playing games with a brightened screen and online will lesson the battery life even more but when the PSVita is being touted as a portable PS3, it’s annoying but somewhat understandable.

Much like Sony’s other TGS announcement. It’s been promised that the PSVita will support older PSP titles and those downloaded from PSN will be retrofitted to use the second analog stick. But what of the numerous disc-based UMD games? Some of them never made it to PSN, will PSVita owners be able to get their hands on them too? Sony’s answer: maybe (via Kotaku). As of now, they’re thinking of solutions for gamers with solely UMD collections who want to upgrade to the PSVita but have said little else on the matter. To me, it sounds an awful lot like the promises made around the early days of the PSPgo. Back then we were led to believe a programme would be put in place for a UMD conversion programme however due to legal and technical issues, Sony abandoned the idea. But, as neat as the PSPgo was, it was never at the forefront of Sony’s long term strategies whereas the PSVita is. It’s their next portable, the PSP2 in fact and they want it to be big. So migrating the old audience from PSP to Vita is essential and if it means coming up with some crazy scheme then a crazy scheme we can certainly expect.

The PSPgo has gone

Failing to reach its second birthday, the PSPgo is dead. A rumour was flying around the web yesterday about how Sony will be ceasing the manufacture and distribution of PSPgos and today that rumour has been confirmed (via Kotaku). Ever quick to see the silver lining in every grey cloud, Sony added how they’re doing so “in order to concentrate on the NGP,” reminding us that the new system will go on sale later this year.

It’s probably not a bad thing that the PSPgo is being pushed aside to make way for the real generational step up from the original PSP since it’s never been anything but trouble for Sony. From the very start in 2009, numerous retailers where expressing their disdain for the system which has no physical software but instead is solely based on digital distribution. No UMDs meant no additional income for shops who sold the PSPgo and as a result, not many did. Slightly bizarre when the same stores stocked iPods. Nevertheless, the lack of retailer interest was mirrored by the consumer making the handheld one triumphant failure. When publishers even shunned the PSPgo, excluding some titles from its catalogue, I think even Sony had given up on it.

The previous iteration however, the PSP 3000, still continues to sell with a large user-base built up in Japan, helping to keep system alive. I never upgraded from my launch model PSP and was once tempted by the shiny new PSPgo, especially when it was being sold with ten free games. But despite such a generous deal, I thought better of it and after today’s news, I’m certainly glad I did.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta goes cheap on PSN

Sony’s Playstation Store receives a hefty discount on God of War: Ghost of Sparta, the latest PSP game in the highly regarded franchise. High street stores have an RRP of £24.99 for the game whereas the price drops to £16.99 for PSN.

The offer is a tiny win for owners of the PSPgo which can only play games downloaded from the store as the prices are usually a lot higher than their physical UMD-based counterparts. Whether or not the trend will follow on for all new PSP titles is a possibility but nothing has been confirmed from Sony. If they wish to resuscitate the gasping PSPgo from total failure then they’d be wise to do so. Recently, the price of a system dropped £65 to only £160 but is still struggling to in the retail market. And with constant rumours of a PSP2 on the horizon, the PSPgo needs all the help it can get.

{Thanks MCV}

3DS comparable to 360 and PS3

New reports are coming in from anonymous developers that Nintendo’s next handheld, the 3DS, will have processing abilities close to that of the Xbox 360 and PS3. That’s not to say the graphics will be as similar but the power to produce them is would be. It takes a lot of gumpf to render polygons in 3D so such a statement does seem like a possibility though the thought of an affordable, pocket-sized power console is less convincing. Without doubt, the 3DS will be more powerful than the current DS and DSi but a PS3 or Xbox 360? I’m skeptical but equally hopeful. If it turns out to be true, then for the first time, a platform holder will have a handheld more powerful than their home console. Since the existing DS is so very popular, it doesn’t come as much surprise Nintendo’s technical strengths will be in this area. They won’t be the only one to have a mighty portable on offer either if the rumours of Sony’s PSP2 are to be believed. It is also said to be quite a beast when it comes to processing and a true upgrade rather than the stop gap that is the PSPgo. Both Nintendo and Sony will should reveal more information when E3 gets going on June 14th.

{Thanks IGN}

Square Enix thinks time is almost up for consoles

Square Enix boss Yoichi Wada has some startling revelations about the video game industry. Unfortunately he’s a couple of years late. Speaking with MCV, Wada speaks of a complete change to how we play our games, with the possibility of making consoles obsolete. He believes in as little as ten years time, sever-powered, streaming games and those that are digitally distributed will replace disc-based formats. We almost have that now with PSN, XBLA and Steam but Wada also thinks that the hardware we play those on won’t be needed as everything will be run on some distant server hooked into our TVs. He added that Sony and Microsoft, in his opinion, have altered their ways for such a shift and Square Enix are doing the same by concentrating on social and browser based games. Let’s not forger the MMO that will be Final Fantasy XIV which SE are paying particular interest in how successful the beta in 2010 will be.

There’s no doubt about a change from disc to digital distribution with Sony trying out that very method thanks to the PSPgo which, for whatever reason, is failing. That suggests this change may be longer than Wada’s “ten years time” as the platform holders figure out the best way of initiating such a shift. It is difficult to imagine either Sony or Microsoft relinquishing their grip on the video game industry by allowing another format to play their games – similar to the idea that one day there’ll be only one console even though the market and platforms are more diverse than they’ve ever been.

Fils my wrath

Reggie himself - thanks www.entremaqueros.com

The big man at Nintendo, Reggie Fils-Aime, was interviewed by The Washington Post where he ‘laid down some smack talk’ about the PSPgo. To be honest, it’s not that bad but he does question the newly launched handheld’s reason for existing. He said “[The PSPgo has a] fundamental concept problem in terms of ‘Who’s it for?’ and ‘What’s the benefit?'” But of course, Fils-Aime has the “utmost respect for all our competitors, but it’s interesting to try and answer the consumer question of ‘What’s in it for me?’ in that product.” And what of those competitors? Personally I think the DS much like the Wii has carved out it’s own market and isn’t really competing with anyone at the moment but naturally, a top dog at Nintendo has a comment all lined up. He referred to the brilliant but flawed Scribblenauts when saying “That’s a fabulous experience that can only be brought to life on the DS” and such an experience wouldn’t/couldn’t be found on the App Store. From what I’ve seen so far on the App Store, I’d have to agree but do think with the amount of dribble on Nintendo’s downloadable service, DSiWare, Fils-Aime should be careful with his quotes.

In regards to his comments on who’s the PSPgo for that’s easy. Sony are not replacing the existing PSP models but selling the newbie alongside it. It’s not aimed at previous owners but for potential consumers looking for a great multimedia experience, therefore the PSPgo’s main competitor is the iPod Touch. If you’re into your epic games with high a production and continuing creditable developers, then PSPgo is for you. What’s the benefit? The things I just mentioned Reggie.

{Thanks Joystiq}