Earlier this month, Sony confirmed that the UMD Passport program, which allowed gamers to “transfer” their UMD games to the PS Vita for a fee, wouldn’t see the light of day outside of Japan.
Sony didn’t say at the time why the UMD Passport program wouldn’t make it to North America or Europe, but now we have a little more information thanks to Wired’s interview with Shuhei Yoshida, Sony Computer Entertainment head of worldwide studios.
In the interview, Yoshida explained that the reason for the UMD Passport’s exclusion outside of Japan came down to demand and costs. UMDs, according to Yoshida, caught on a whole lot more in Japan than it did in North America and Europe.
“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,” Yoshida explained. “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.”
The decision to exclude the program in North America and Europe wasn’t solely due to a lack of a demand, however. Yoshida says that in Japan, software prices are higher; if a Japanese gamer forks over $5 or $10 to transfer their UMD game to their Vita, it would come out to be less of a cost than buying the game new.
“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.”