Sony Details Why U.S. UMD Passport Program Won’t Exist

Sony is offering a UMD Passport Program in Japan that allows users to upload their UMD games to a PS Vita for a price. That system is not coming to the U.S. and Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida provided some context as to why not.

“The system has been introduced in Japan, where there is a much larger demand for PSP games,” said Yoshida. “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. 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. So there is a lot more demand… to introduce a program like that.”

“The other point is that when you look at PSP titles sold digitally in the States or Europe, games are sold for a really reasonable price. You can buy Final Fantasy Tactics for $10. That’s a great price,” he added. “There are many, many games that are sold at an affordable price. 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,” he continued. “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.”

Source: Wired

Uncharted: Golden Abyss Gets Treasure DLC

Uncharted: Golden Abyss has hundreds of treasures and artifacts that help tell the backstories of the game’s locations and characters, and all are tied to Trophies. Because looking up FAQs with the PS Vita is not always easy, Sony is offering a DLC that integrates the Treasure Maps directly into Drake’s Journal.

“When you buy and install the maps, a new Treasure Map Icon appears on the Chapter page for each level. Tap the icon to bring up the map,” said John Garvin, Creative Director of Bend Studios. “You’ll be greeted with a full-screen image of the level showing all of its major landmarks and the locations of rubbings, photos, artifacts, treasures and Mysteries. And in case you were wondering, there are 34 maps — one for each level in the game.”

Source: blog.us.playstation.com

Jagex Brings In New Chief Marketing Officer

Jagex has announced that David Solari has joined the online company as the Chief Marketing Officer. Having worked at Codemasters for 14 years and having managed online titles like Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Archlord and RF Online as Vice President and General Manager of Codemasters Online Gaming, he will shift his focus to Jagex MMO titles like RuneScape.

“Having worked in the digital games space for many years, I have followed Jagex’s incredible success and growth with great interest,” said Solari. “The company’s strength in pioneering free-to-play browser games is inspiring. This role presents a huge and exciting challenge for me. I can’t wait to get started and I’m really looking forward to working with this terrific team as we drive toward our goal of making Jagex the online entertainment destination in the years to come.

“It’s with great pleasure that I welcome David to the Jagex family,” added Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard. “David’s leadership, online experience, gravitas and passion for games will help fortify an already successful team. On a personal note, David is an all-around great guy and a perfect match for Jagex DNA.”

Social Game Publisher Making Fun Has Old-School Focus

John Welch, CEO of Making Fun, is bringing a more old-school publishing model to the mobile and social platforms. He and co-founder Lee Crawford are claiming it as the first full-service social games publishing company.

“There are lots of publishers in social, but what they really are is distribution networks,” said Welch. “We’re a publisher in the old-school kind of way. We fund projects, and we are very, very intimately involved creatively, presenting to the consumer a product that looks like it came from a big company. We take the passion and skills and creativity of an independent developer and package that in with our team where we provide things that only publishers can offer: scale, marketing firepower, the technology platform, financing, the expertise in doing casual game publishing for 12 years.”

The use of technology allows the company to stay small and communicate with developers everywhere. “There’s only about 20 people here. We’re mostly technical, though I guess I’m overhead,” said Welch. “We’re also trying to recognize that there are brilliant, passionate game designers around the world, not just in San Francisco.”

While they’re owned by News Corp, the global conglomerate promised to be hands-off. “News Corp is a loose federation of planets,” said Welch. “No one’s telling us what to do. They’re telling us to build a successful business. That’s an exciting place to be. There’s financial backing to help us grow.”

“We’re doing social and mobile today; I think in the future you’ll see those things coming together,” added Welch. “We’re technology agnostic; it’s really the core competency of the studio that we choose for any given project that matters. We’re not limited to or constrained or biased by what our bench has, in terms of ability.”

Story is a very important part of their first game Hidden Haunts and they’re looking to continue that with their future projects, which might include games based around TV shows on Fox and FX. “The narrative meta-structure, the sense of place, that seems to be missing from many social games. We’re starting to think about it in terms of seasons,” Welch said.

“In old school games where you made money at the point of sale, you need that narrative hook to keep them interested,” added Crawford. “People leave the grind of the average social game because they’ve used up all the content.”

Source: IndustryGamers {link no longer active}

Thumbstar Hires Executives For Move Towards Development

Thumbstar Games has announced the appointment of two new executives, reflecting their shift from being a publisher of over 2,000 games to a developer of its own IP. Tony Fitzgerald (veteran of Psygnosis, Rage, Jester Interactive, and Telcogames) has been made sales manager while Phil Brannelly (manager at Game and Ubisoft) will take the role of marketing manager.

“The pace of growth at Thumbstar continues and both Tony and Phil bring many years of experience into the fold,” said CEO Gareth Edmondson. “That sort of experience is priceless for any company, such as ours, with big ambitions. They are a welcome addition to the team.”

“Thumbstar are already well established as a distributor of third party mobile games content but the creation of our own IP, and taking that to a highly competitive market, is very exciting,” said Brannelly. “Everyone involved with Thumbstar has one goal and that’s to be the best. I’m thrilled to be given the chance to be a part of it.”

Sony Patents Camera With Kinect-Like Motion Sensing

According to a patent filed in late 2011, Sony is working on a camera that would plug into a PlayStation and recognize a player’s movements and their positioning in a 3D space. The patent was filed by Richard Marks, the main development talent behind Sony’s PlayStation Move.

The new devise appears to be an evolution off of the PS2’s EyeToy, and the PS3’s PlayStation Eye and Move peripherals, along with Microsoft’s Kinect. While this is an intriguing, even likely, addition to the PS4, the patent is not an announcement or verification that such a device will ever release.

Source: Kotaku