You've probably noticed Sony's Next Generation Portable (NGP) and PSP successor doesn't have a UMD drive. That's on balance a very good thing. The UMD drive tends to be noisy, adds weight (not to mention a significant potential point of failure) to the unit, the discs themselves attract finger smudges, dust, and scratches, and toting even a moderately sized UMD library around can be a messy, multiple-case pain.
So how will you play existing UMD games on the NGP? Didn't Sony quash plans to bridge the media divide with the PSP Go? Will you have to buy your UMD games all over again?
Japanese game site Gigazine put the question to Sony (in Japanese) and got an answer. Well, sort of.
We already know Sony has something like half its PSP game library available through its online store. Anything you've purchased follows you device to device and can be re-downloaded indefinitely. Sony says it's continuing to work with publishers to move UMD-only titles to the Store (and perhaps redoubling those efforts as a true PSP successor looms).
We've also heard the NGP will run original PSP games in emulation. How well, no one knows, but given the NGP's putative PS3-like processing prowess, I'd favor adjectives like "admirably" on up to "flawlessly."
Gigazine picks up another piece of the puzzle. The site discovered Sony plans to release UMD games in the NGP's memory-stick format. That means if current UMD-only publishers opt to sell card-based versions, you'd at have access to games like Final Fantasy Tactics (the superior PSP version), Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Patapon 3, EyePet, Invizimals, Phantasy Star Portable 2, and SOCOM Fireteam Bravo 3. But like I said, only if publishers take Sony up on this memory-stick thing.
What if you're a PSP gamer holding stacks of UMD discs with nowhere to go? Will Sony offer a media transfer or trade-in program so you're not stuck repurchasing your game library?
Sony tells Gigazine it's "investigating the various possibilities," though noting a device capable of reading (or authenticating) UMD discs isn't currently in the offing.
Let's hope they come up with something. With the PSP Go, Sony could hold up the PSP 3000 as the go-to device for the UMD-committed. With the NGP, that changes. As far as I know, the PSP 3000 goes away when the NGP arrives.
Why not a trade-in (or up) program, perhaps time-limited or in association with retailers like Best Buy or GameStop? Flat trades would be ideal, but even special discounts on UMD games in trade, say, for game download codes, would be better than nothing.