Brandon Boyer

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I suppose it couldn’t have started at a better place: a long series of rumors and follow-ups yesterday has rewarded Ars Technica with confirmation that Sony will be using the upcoming release of its Rolito-art-directed strategy game Patapon 2 as a test bed for pure digital downloads for the PSP.

Soon to be available on the PlayStation Network for $15 alongside the other recently converted digital download releases, Sony will continue to support retail with an empty UMD case that simply contains a slip with a download code (and a demo version, if you reserve at select retailers, that — like the original game — will give you a special item that carries over into the full release) for $5 more.

This is a bold first step in the new direction for the device that Joel contemplated over at Gadgets earlier this year (which I thought of as even closer than he imagined over here) and hopefully something that will continue en masse later this year.

Or imagine it playing out this way: games are the ephemeral experience, the ones that — especially now — we don’t need to purchase in a box. Why not go a step further and sell us some other companion piece to keep retail in the loop (a toy? a shirt? a print?) and let the game exist purely in byte form?

[Correction: As Metanet‘s Raigan Burns has very correctly pointed out, this isn’t the first purely digital PSP game: Queasygames‘ excellent handheld port of Everyday Shooter and, more recently, Realtech VR’s No Gravity are more obvious examples, but this is the first time Sony’s tried to run both digital and retail routes stateside.]

Confirmed: Retail Patapon 2 to be UMD-free [Ars Technica, Patapon 2 home]

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