When I met with SCEA staff to spend some time with the PSP before its release
I questioned them on the viability of UMD movies – especially at the prices they
were planning on charging. "But, it's House of Flying Daggers!" the staffer
exclaimed when I dared ask why anyone would spend $30 on a movie they can only
watch on their PSP. After a brief honeymoon where Sony claimed several titles
had sold over 100,000 copies, UMD sales have cooled considerably, and it seems
that Hollywood is finally starting to question the format.
The Hollywood Reporter printed an article today that paints a grim picture for
the struggling UMD market. The story goes on to say that both Universal Studios
and Paramount have completely stopped producing UMD movies. "We continue to
evaluate the PSP platform for each title, and if it makes sense for business
reasons and the target audience, we will release them," spokeswoman for
Paramount Pictures, Brenda Ciccone said. 20th Century Fox and Buena Vista are
still producing UMD Movies, but are doing so on a limited basis.
Lest you think things aren't so bad for the format, the story includes a few
more quotes from unnamed executives to get its point across:
"We are on hiatus with UMD. Releasing titles on UMD is the exception
rather than the rule. No one's even breaking even on them."
"It's awful. Sales are near zilch. It's another Sony bomb — like
"No one's watching movies on PSP. It's a game player, period."
Current speculation has Sony developing a standalone UMD Movie player that
will allow you to view your movies on TV. This will not allow you to hook your
PSP up to the TV, however, as that simply makes too much sense. I'm not going to
sugarcoat it for you – the format is dead. Sure there are a few movies coming
out here and there, but when rumors are flying about Wal-Mart discontinuing UMD
sales, the format's outlook is bleak.