Today has not been a good day. I found out that four Canadian soldiers died during an IED attack in Kandahar. Well, that is a tragedy for all of us, I also found out that one of them was my friend Myles Mansell. He was a reservist that was attached to 1 RCHA out of Shilo Manitoba and was from my hometown, Victoria. I knew him for about 8 or so years and considered him a friend. There are a number of Reservist serving overseas with the Reg Force and they face the same dangers as any soldiers. The term "Twice the Citizen" has never been so clear to me now as Myles was active in both his life in and out of uniform. My heart goes out to all his family and friends and his comrades at Fifth Field Regiment. Rest in Peace, my friend…
Remeber when I said that Sony was hoping the UMD movie market would thrive and not go the way of such failed fomats as Laserdisc Betamax and their own failure, the mini-disc? Guess what? The PSP Movie honeymoon is over and the studios are jumping ship like rats off the Titanic!
Various sites like this one (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060330/tc_nm/universalmediadisc_dc) are reporting both retailers and studios are not happy with the sales on UMD movies and are planning to or have already withdrawn their support for the format. Sony spent the past year convincing studios to put movies on UMDs because of strong movie sales in the first few months of launch (mostly because most of the first wave of games were utter crap). We even seen pr0n UMDs produced, first in Japan, then Europe and even an American company (Bouncy Pictures). But with the games steadily improving in quality and numbers, the movies started to sell less. And why bother buying a UMD of your favorite movie, when the DVD version is usually cheaper and you could ripped to you PSP if you reallly have to have it.
I personally have quite a few UMD movies. Only now have the number of games in my collection almost caught up with the movies (21 games. 23 movies). I watch the movies occasionally, usually when on trips and such, but I still rather watch a regualr DVD than a UMD. Maybe if I travelled more I’d have more use for the movies, but I’d rather play the games and if I wanted to watch a movie, I could always have an MPEG-4 file on my gig memory stick. Then I could watch anything I wanted.
Sony really wanted this format to stick. The problem is, not everyone owns a PSP. There is no other device that plays UMDs, so it limits the market to game players with a need to play on the go. I have heard nothing of thrid party "Movie UMDs Only" players out there. Sony will try to win back support in May for the UMD but the only plans I heard is a PSP to TV connection. Sure, it would be great to play the game on a bigger screen, provided resolution problems are worked out, but we all have DVD players by now to play movies on. Sony won’t get any new converts to the format which is what it so desperately need.
Another problem with the UMD are the titles. I can see them releasing action movies, anime, children’s movies/shows and music videos (well, besides Prince…I mean, who listens to Prince nowadays?) but yesterday I saw Memoirs of a Geshia for the PSP. Why? It doesn’t seem to be a movie that fits in with the target demographics, even if it is about Japanese professional call girls ("Japanese hookers, man! There gots to be a boobie or two!") Its’ a historical drama! Besides there are other ways to get more racy fair onto the PSP.
So the movies are going away and the games are racing to the forefront. I think it is a good thing because Sony now has to make sure the games drive the sales for the unit. The memory sticks and various programs will still allow you to take your favorite show with you and Sony has tied in the PSP with their Location Free Player which allows you to stream movies from you computer/TV or PS3 (whenever THAT comes out). Again, the technology is willing but the prices will keep it out of most people’s homes. That, with Blu-ray being considered a dismal failure even before (or is that because) the first players are even out. Sony should realize that they have to keep the technology affordable as well as cutting edge.