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Sony Sticking With UMD For PSP

Despite any rumors to the contrary, Sony is sticking with the Universal Media Disc (UMD) format for their PSP. According to Pocket Gamer UK, PSP senior marketing manager John Koller took some time to outline the benefits of the format, which is good news for owners of Sony's portable..

"UMD possesses many strengths, from size to form factor to portability," he said. "Duplication of UMDs is much easier, cheaper than cartridges," Koller adds. "We've really optimized time and cost by going with a disc-based format."

Koller admits the biggest weakness of the UMD format is related to "porting games from other platforms." Publishers don't really like the size of UMD simply because they can't jam a whole DVD game on it. Koji Igarashi, creator of the upcoming PSP title, Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles, adds his own thoughts in regards to a key disadvantage.

"The slowness of the seeking speed of UMD is a weakness," he commented, "The [...] loading speed becomes a big problem for UMD."

So in other words, is Igarashi saying he has run into problems with Chronicles? And does this "big problem" indicate he won't be working on any PSP games in the future? Well, don't count on it. He found a way to work around that loading time issue, and emphasizes the skill of a developer to "overcome" certain obstacles.

"To tell the truth, I was a little worried at first because I was told that the loading time was long when I started working on PSP," said Igarashi. "But thanks to programmers, we were able to achieve considerably fast loading times. We can overcome [loading times] by technique it is the programmers' chance to show what he can do."

UMD is definitely something new, and there are always some naysayers when a company introduces something new. The PSP has seen plenty of developer and publisher support despite lagging behind the Nintendo DS, and sales have increased for Sony's portable over the past year. Furthermore, with a lot of high-profile titles scheduled for the second half of 2007, it seems the PSP is definitely on the right track.

"UMD is a unique medium to create games," finished Koller, "and developers need to understand that when tackling the system."

7/5/2007 Ben Dutka

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