Sony Unveils UMD Passport Program For PlayStation Vita

Sony Computer Entertainment has unveiled information on the UMD Passport program, which allows PlayStation Portable owners to re-download their games on the PlayStation Vita for a reduced cost. Details for the program apply to the Japanese market, but hopefully a…

Sony Computer Entertainment has unveiled information on the UMD Passport program, which allows PlayStation Portable owners to re-download their games on the PlayStation Vita for a reduced cost. Details for the program apply to the Japanese market, but hopefully a similar (or better) solution will be available globally.

PSP owners will have to download a program, insert their UMD games into their system, and connect to the PlayStation Store. Once this is done, a downloadable version of their (participating) game will be available on the Vita for ¥500 to ¥2,400 (roughly $6.50 to $30). An initial list of participating publishers and games was posted by Sony but, again, this applies to the Japanese market.

I like that Sony is rewarding its PSP customers with this program. I also expect many gamers to bitch about having to re-purchase their games. The reality is that there was no easy solution for this “problem”. No matter what Sony did, it was going to get dinged. I see it as a, “Hey, they’re trying!” situation.

What do you think of the UMD Passport program for PlayStation Vita? Is Sony doing its best to reward loyal customers? Or is it double dipping?


Meet the Capitol One Visa PlayStation Card

Sony Computer Entertainment America has announced details on the PlayStation Card — a Visa credit card by Capitol One. The card earns points that can be used “for PlayStation games, accessories, and PlayStation Network content — along with other great products from Sony”.  It offers some nice bonuses for gamers that frequently buy PlayStation games and Sony electronics. Here’s the rundown:

  • 10X points on all PlayStation Network purchases
  • 3X points on all PlayStation and Sony purchases at Sony stores and
  • 3X points at quick service restaurants, at movie theaters, and on your mobile phone bill
  • 1X points on all other purchases

Any of you going to apply for the PlayStation Card?


Smartphone Gaming Growing Rapidly, Nintendo DS Declining

[Updated 9:21AM PST] Flurry Analytics posted a fascinating pie chart (as fascinating as pie charts get, anyway) that illustrates the rapid growth of Android and iOS gaming, as well as the decline of Nintendo DS gaming. According to the company, Android and iOS are responsible for approximately 58 percent of U.S. portable game software revenue in 2011. This is up from 19 percent in 2009 and 34 percent in 2010. Compare this to the Nintendo DS’ 2011 software revenue, which Flurry estimates to be 36 percent of the market. This is down from 70 percent in 2009 and 57 percent in 2010.

One thing to keep in mind is that the DS is an end-of-life product and has been replaced by the 3DS. As most of you know, the console market is cyclical, so it wasn’t surprising to see DS software sales declining over the last three years. Android and iOS games are more evergreen, since they’re not tied to a specific set of hardware. Also, Flurry vice president of marketing Peter Farago made no mention of the 3DS in his blog post. I’ve reached out to the company to see if 3DS software sales were included in the overall DS figure.

Even considering the cyclical nature of consoles, the rapid growth of smartphone gaming is extremely impressive. It will be interesting to see how standalone gaming systems like the 3DS and the upcoming PlayStation Vita will perform. With smartphones and tablets becoming fantastic gaming platforms, it’s looking like the audience for specialized gaming is shrinking.

Let me know what you think of Flurry’s study on U.S. portable gaming revenue when you have a chance (please!).

Update 9:21AM PST: Flurry VP Peter Farago confirmed that the 2011 Nintendo figure includes 3DS software sales. He told me via email, “This is total Nintendo portable data, including 3DS.” Even though the 3DS stumbled out of the gate in the U.S., sales have been picking up and there are several hot games that will sell well this holiday season. In light of that, the number is even more fascinating.


Watch 10 Minutes of Final Fantasy Type-0!

Here’s a lengthy clip of the upcoming Final Fantasy Type-0 for PlayStation Portable. Some of you will remember the game as Final Fantasy Agito XIII. I’m super looking forward to Type-0 for its battle system (purported to be similar to the one in Crisis Core: FFVII) and music by Takeharu Ishimoto.

I was a little disturbed by the bloody chocobo. They’re such cute animals and it saddened me to see one injured…but then it made me think of a band name. My Bloody Chocobo will be the name of my next band!

Anyway, check out the clip and let me know what you think (please!).

PlayStation Vita Launching on February 22 in America

Sony Computer Entertainment America has announced that the PlayStation Vita portable videogame console will launch on February 22, 2012 in North America. The system is already selling well in Japan and is expected to be one of most popular holiday gifts in that country. With the Nintendo 3DS performing below expectations, Sony has a huge opportunity to do some damage in the handheld space.

Here’s a clip from the press release, followed by a poll and some images. Please share your thoughts on the PSP launch date and your plans for getting or not getting one.

Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (SCEA) today announced on stage at the Web 2.0 Summit 2011 that the PlayStation Vita (PS Vita) system will launch in the U.S. on February 22, 2012. Available at major retailers for $249.99 (MSRP) for the Wi-Fi model and $299.99 (MSRP) for the 3G/Wi-Fi model, the PS Vita system will offer unparalleled interactive entertainment anytime and anywhere.

[poll id=”136″]

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PlayStation Network Hack Attacked Again

Several Sony only services have been attacked, potentially compromising thousands of PlayStation Network and Sony Online Entertainment accounts. Sony estimates that up to 93,000 accounts have potentially been affected by the cyber attack (I wanted to use the word “cyber”. Sue me.). Here’s more from Sony Chief Information Security Office Philip Retinger:

Less than one tenth of one percent (0.1%) of our PSN, SEN and SOE audience may have been affected. There were approximately 93,000 accounts globally (PSN/SEN: approximately 60,000 accounts; SOE: approximately 33,000) where the attempts succeeded in verifying those accounts’ valid sign-in IDs and passwords, and we have temporarily locked these accounts. Only a small fraction of these 93,000 accounts showed additional activity prior to being locked. We are currently reviewing those accounts for unauthorized access, and will provide more updates as we have them. Please note, if you have a credit card associated with your account, your credit card number is not at risk. We will work with any users whom we confirm have had unauthorized purchases made to restore amounts in the PSN/SEN or SOE wallet.

The good news is that Sony picked this up early, a small percentage of accounts were affected, and credit card numbers were not at risk. That bad news is that some knob is walking around as your DC Universe Online character and tarnishing your good name. I kid, I kid.

Seriously though, head on over to the source link below if you’re worried about your account(s).


Can Sony’s “Only on PSN” Program Tackle the iOS App Store?

Sony recently announced an aggressive new program called “Only on PSN” that serves up downloadable games that are exclusive to the PlayStation online service. A lot of the games in the initial lineup are creative titles made by independent developers. With its focus on small games, creativity, and indie devs, “Only on PSN” will be competing hot and heavy with Apple’s iOS App Store.

IndustryGamers also believes that these two services are competing and asked Sony Computer Entertainment America senior director Susan Panico about taking on Apple. Here’s some of what she had to say.

On that platform [iOS] it is survival of the fittest and you really only get great success if you break into that top 20, but on our platform because it is managed and we do want to ensure we’re giving visibility to our community and marketing support behind this content, it’s a really great way for developers to not only have to invest little up front but they’re also getting the marketing machine of a large organization like PlayStation.

I agree with Panico to a point. Sony can definitely do a better job than Apple when it comes to adding community elements and catering content for its audience, which is more specific than Apple’s. Those are complexities and nuances that Sony can certainly leverage, but first it has to overcome a much more basic issue with PSN — the user experience.

The App Store’s user experience is flat-out better than PSN’s. Part of it is simply because of how you interface with each service; it’s much easier to navigate menus using your finger than it is with a d-pad and several buttons. Part of it is due to design; PSN is awfully stylish, but it’s not nearly as friendly or functional as the App Store. Before Sony worries about community engagement and casting Kevin Butler in side-splitting “Only on PSN” commercials, it needs to improve PSN’s user experience.

As for attracting independent developers for sweet exclusives, Panico said:

We have dedicated resources within our organization to go after indie developers and to work with these teams where we see great talent, and then of course we like to make sure people know we have an open platform and an open door, so they’ll want to come to us and bring their content.

Sony can definitely do a better job than Apple when it comes to reaching out to indie devs. I know people at both companies that are tasked with developer outreach and relations. Objectively, Sony has more people interacting with independent developers. Subjectively, Sony has better better people reaching out to game developers.

While a PSN vs. iOS App Store fight sounds ridiculous and lopsided in favor of Apple, there are several areas where Sony can win. Will it? I’m not sure about that. The allure of having a best-seller on iOS is tough to compete with. Will developers gamble and go for broke with Apple? Or will they prefer to go with Sony, which will (arguably) treat them better and do a superior job at helping them reach gamers?

What do you think of the “Only on PSN” initiative? Will Sony be able to attract the top indie developers? Will it be able to steal some talent away from Apple’s iOS walled garden?


This Week’s Videogame Releases

October kicks off with a slew of awesome videogames! If you’re looking for a supremely gorgeous post-apocalyptic shooter then you definitely want to pick up id Software’s Rage. There probably won’t be any NBA basketball played until next year, but that shouldn’t stop you from playing NBA 2K12. Spider-Man — both the current version and the 2099 version — are back for another wall-crawling adventure in Spider-Man: Edge of Time. Want something dark and brutally difficult? If so then Dark Souls, the successor to Demon’s Souls, is right up your alley. Finally, sometimes you just need to dance. If that’s the case then Just Dance 3 will do you good.

Any of you picking up new games this week?

This Week’s Videogame Releases

There are tons of great games coming out this week! As a comic-book nerd and Silicon Knights fan, I’m most excited about X-Men Destiny. Football (soccer) fans have FIFA 12 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 to devour (go Man City!). The PlayStation 3 is arguably the most interesting platform this week with The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection, Child of Eden, Tom Clancy’s: Splinter Cell Classic Trilogy , and Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland set for release.

Any of you planning to pick up new games this week?

This Week’s Videogame Releases

So…who’s buying Gears of War 3 this week? Anyone? Anyone?!? If that’s not your bag then you can pick up Supremacy MMA for some arcade-style fighting laced with modern MMA. PSP gamers looking for some a game with crazy depth and challenge should consider Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2 Innocent Sin. It’s a light week with most publishers wisely deciding not to go head-to-head with Gears, but there are still some solid choices.

Any of you picking up new games this week?