When Sony revealed the PSP Go this week, it confirmed rumors that the handheld console won't use the unpopular UMD format. In fact, it looks like Sony really wants you to trade-up to a Go: It'll convert your old UMD games for you, possibly for free.
This news came when Gizmodo's Mark Wilson cornered a Sony executive at E3 this week. Wilson wanted to know how Sony was going to deal with its "loyal fanbase" who bought earlier versions of the PSP and had a stack of UMD-version games, but want to get a PSP Go. Sony's Director of Hardware Marketing John Koller gave the somewhat surprising answer that Sony was quickly putting together a "good will program", based on the company's Portable Copy solution that lets users downconvert Blu-ray movies for PSP compatibility, that would let gamers swap old UMD games for new digital-only versions.
It's a fabulous move, and in our cynical modern world it seems a pretty generous move by Sony--which, after all, is a company that expects you to buy the same movie on Blu-ray disc now that you already own the DVD. The logic is pretty sound though: The PSP Go's hardware is significantly neater than the predecessor PSPs but more expensive, and if letting people trade-in their old UMD games for digital only versions tempts people to buy Gos, then Sony makes a profit.
But Wilson draws a further conclusion from the news, arguing that since Portable Copy is a free facility, it may be possible that Sony will allow the UMD conversion for free as well.
Would Sony do this though? Actually, it's pretty possible. After all, the only difference between the digital-only and UMD versions of the older games is their medium--and gamers would be very discouraged to buy Gos if they had to pay for their favorite titles twice. As we've seen this week, Sony's possibly turning away from its nasty proprietary format past.