Patapon 2 won’t see a full UMD release in the US; instead, the rhythm game will be a Store download when it launches on May 5th. “We’re considering the digital only format for the Patapon 2 release as a one time test case as we continue to explore consumer preferences for digital content,” says a statement from SCEA. “The downloadable game will be available on May 5th at both retail and via the PlayStation Store. We remain focused on providing superior games and entertainment experiences in both the UMD and digital formats and are working closely with our partners to deliver the best PSP line up in our history.”
This is very much like GTA IV’s The Lost And The Damned, which you could buy directly from the Live Marketplace or wander into a shop and purchase a little card with a redeem token hidden under some shiny silver foil. Whether or not Patapon’s store voucher will still be in a standard PSP UMD game box or not we’re not sure, but this is brave new territory for Sony struggling with flagging UMD sales and rampant piracy on it’s lovely little handheld, and whilst Sony has offered download-only games before (including some recent PSP games) it’s the first that will also be available from a brick and mortar shop.
As far as PS3 games go personally I’d rather have the disk, but the portable nature of PSP plays up to having lots of games available readily, especially if you’ve got a decent sized memory stick. And if this is an indication as to the direction the PSP brand is going with whatever Sony do next with the hardware, we’re all for it.