Sony intros Memory Stick movies as Target KO's UMDs

As national retailer pulls UMD movies from shelves, Sony begins to offer very limited selection of direct-to-memory movies for its portable.

After getting off to a strong start in the wake of the American PSP launch last March, the Universal Media Disc (UMD) appears to be on its last legs. Sales of movies on the PSP's once-hot proprietary format have slowed to a trickle, causing several major movie studios to cease supporting it. In March, the Hollywood Reporter ran an article claiming that the home-entertainment divisions of Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures have "completely stopped" releasing films on the format, and other studios have been cutting back their release slates.

Perhaps more disturbing for Sony were unconfirmed reports that retail colossi Wal-Mart and Best Buy were scaling back UMD displays in their stores. This week, speculation turned into reality when Target decided to discontinue stocking UMDs entirely. A manager at a San Francisco Bay Area Target outlet told GameSpot, "We no longer carry PSP movies. We stopped carrying them nationwide."

At virtually the same time, Sony announced the forthcoming release of a pair of Memory Stick Entertainment Packs (MSEP). The packages will come in 1GB (MSX-M1GSTEP) and 2GB (MEX-M2GSEP) Memory Stick Duos for about $60 and $100--the standard retail price for both items.

Though tech-savvy PSP owners have been converting their DVDs to the PSP-compatible MPEG-4 files via third-party applications for more than a year, the Entertainment Packs mark the first time Sony has officially released movies for direct download to Memory Stick Duo, the PSP's storage format.

However, the initial batch of Mem-Stick-ready movies are a very limited selection of Sony Pictures titles--all of which received decidedly mixed reviews. Each of the two packs will come bundled with an installer DVD that contains four films--Hitch, S.W.A.T., The Grudge, or XXX: State of the Union. The movies will play in 240x320-pixel resolution, lower than the 480x272-pixel resolution PSPs are capable of.

However, purchasers of the packs will be able to copy only one of the four films onto their new memory sticks--the others will then be locked. "The code given with the MSEP will unlock one of the four movies," a Sony rep told GameSpot. "Through a special Digital Rights Management [solution] designed by Sony Electronics and SCEA, this [movie] is then downloadable for the PSP."

Fortunately, the movie will be automatically converted to MPEG-4 by the unlocking process, and will be easier to load onto a PSP via a USB cable. Unfortunately, the conversion software on the Memory Stick Entertainment Pack installer DVD will only work on the four films on the disc. "If you own other movies that you want on your Memory Stick, you have to have conversion software," said the Sony rep. Also, the film will also be playable solely on the portable, not on the PC it was transferred from, as "it is a special promotion for getting movies on your PSP."

Many will take Sony's introduction of direct-to-Memory Stick movies as an acknowledgment that the UMD format has failed and as a sign it is prepping consumers for digital distribution. Sony, though, refutes such suggestions. "The UMD was never a factor in the development of this product [the Memory Stick Entertainment Pack]," the rep told GameSpot.

Sony also wouldn't comment on the implications that Memory Stick movies had for the future of the UMD format. However, the rep did say that their introduction was primarily about giving more options to consumers. "We're a universal entertainment company and we're able to offer the consumer more choice," said the rep. "Bundling Sony content with Sony hardware is something we can offer that others can't."

Written By

Discussion

250 comments
ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

UMD movies are the 2000's version of Betamax, also a failed format made by Sony.

aguilanthony
aguilanthony

Not True. I went to target the other day and they had that stupid STOMP THE YARD movie.

majestikk
majestikk

It'll eventually happen to Blu-Ray...

Ocram_Zepol
Ocram_Zepol

*sigh* I always knew that UMD movies were going to fail. I just never thought it would come this far...

Crutch20
Crutch20

I only bought one UMD movie, Terminator 2. The other, Spiderman 2 came with my psp. I have thought the movie idea was dumb from the beginning, but I wanted to say that I went to Wal-Mart last night and could not find the UMD movie section. Have they taken them out too?

Future_Nobody
Future_Nobody

YES!! Maybe with that extra shelf space at Target they'll bring back my beloved VHS! Then I can watch Hitch and SWAT the way they were meant to be seen. Confession: I own both of these on DVD, along with Doom. Yeah, I even disgust myself.

ShuyinXSeraph
ShuyinXSeraph

Ehh...it sounds cool I guess...but from what I've read here, I don't think I'll be getting one of these MSEPs or whatever. I happen to like UMD, but they don't have a big selection, and I think that's the main problem. I don't particularly enjoy mediocre movies on my PSP. Maybe if Star Wars, Jet Li movies, "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon clones", etc. were on the PSP, or for that matter, entire series of TV shows, anime, or better music-related UMDs, I'd probably own more than the four UMD movies I do own.

sieg6529
sieg6529

Exclusive formats work for games, not for movies. What was Sony thinking? Were they thinking?

chrisdojo
chrisdojo

lol. psp owned by retailers and it's own stupid format.

millrboyz
millrboyz

it never made sense to begin with, i dont know how it sold well in the beginning at all but now they need to get the PS1 emulator working, im sure that could be more successful

tape990
tape990

UMD movies would look like garbage on a big tv.

skyvader
skyvader

What Sony needed to do was release a set top UMD player for the movies. As strange as the format is, given that there was only ONE device to play UMD movies was a complete waste of technology. I am sure tere would have been more acceptance if the cost was lower and the tech was more available to the non psp users. Like the whole portable dvd player thing. Granted those cae out after the initial set top players were made affordable to everyone. But there was a market for it! Now you can play those dvd movies anywhere with these portable players. Sony could have tried the reverse with now you can play those umd movies on a real screen. An add on player for the ps2/ps3 for $100 would allow not only playing of movies but possible games as well. Tech inside the unit would compensate for the res the movies/games are encoded at and use some type of smother/filter to upsample the image quality to ps2 level. oh well, what could have been is now gone.

collinsworth
collinsworth

I LOVE MY PSP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! but i do not own any UMD movies. they are over priced and i would rather have a dvd. The games are great and the music sounds great but i am glad to see UMD movies die. Now get me my Location Free Player and PS1 Emulator and i will be a happy happy guy. NCAA 07 Tekken Ace Combat X Scarface GTA VCS the games are coming kids!!!! Monster Hunter Freedom, Syphon Filter, and Pursuit Force were great too.

ssjtrunks6
ssjtrunks6

That is sweet no other portable gaming system has this capability...I mean something made specifically for this reason, man at this rate the psp might soon have satallite tv..LOL I bet no other company thought of doing that , and that is such a simple idea....People say sony copies alot, it seems that see that sony can do what ever they can do, but sony does it better...that's messed up Despite all the crap sony went through and was still able to pull itself out...sony does not even need the ps3 to succeed, that is a fact, their sterio systems, can help support them, they dont even need that much place lol Oh and then ps3 games are in blue ray format...holy crap those discs have the capacity of over 7 dvds they could make a game that would actually take years to complete, WOW imagine the movie possibilities

juvinwo1
juvinwo1

its not going to save the PSP from being embarrassed by the DS!!!

nekrotaunter
nekrotaunter

not surprised that umd movies failed, they released such bad movies. when i say bad movies, i mean that you'll have the people that still like the movie when everyone else will just think you're retarded, example: total recall. so basically what has happened is that sony tried to push the psp too far and makes more of a mess trying to cover it's tracks with poor sales and spending too much time blocking emulation. it really was an ultimate system when it came out, besides the lacking games. now nintendo is pushing forward with it's ds and blowing out the competition because they took their time without trying to completely revolutionize the scene. just get the movie converter for ds on play-asia.

4quarters
4quarters

UMD is a great portable format. There are 2 problems,1)They are too expensive, they need to retail for $12.99 or less!!!! 2)They need a USB adapter so the movies can be watched on a regular tv!!!!!!If these 2 conditions are met I would stop buying dvd's.

Linadain
Linadain

PSP all together sux i got one played it for about 2 months then it got board all the games arnt fun at all its a waste of 200$ i think sony is going down way down im glad i got a DS bc that thing keeps me busy all day not like my psp wich i dont even know where it is and i dont care. you nintendo and microsoft are doing better in the gaming industry. all i can say is that i was waiting and waiting to get a psp and i wasent even thinking of a DS now the DS is the best thing to get. sorry sony but you all lost me when you said 600$ and now this cr@p. Good bye sony:( hello X360 :)

anamnawshad
anamnawshad

:lol: @ $ONY First there were 20$ UMDs. Now 60-100$ Memory stick with only one movie!!!! $ony sucks....UMD has failed this thing will also fail. I hope P$-3 doesn't fail, cause then $ony will be dead..........:(

Imavnas
Imavnas

Accumuta: The first link to Amazon is laughable at best. You dont even need to buy the product to write a review. And whats most amusing is that you post most of your examples from one reviewer who completely glossed over the details to the point where he sounded like hes never even OWNED a Blu-Play player. Theres only one review in that link thats actually worth a read, and that the first one. The guy explains the TV hes using, what hes watching, what it looks like, and even goes on to desribe certain things in detail. He gave it a 3 out of 5, and didnt go on to say anything even remotely related to "get the HD-DVD instead". He actually told the reader of the review that he wasnt using a home theater system that was capable of displaying 1080p, or of listening to uncompressed sound. In short he pretty much felt underwhelmed because of this, and IHO, right now is not the moment to make the switch from regular DVD to Blu-Ray. Thats it. And as a sidenote: Amazon has only ONE review for the Toshiba HD-DVD player, and like most of the Blu-Ray reviews, it just completely glosses over details, and explains how excited the reviewer is (i.e. thats not a review...) Now moving on to the important links 2 and 3 (especially 3): You can definitely get a clear picture of what the problems with the first released Blu-Ray player is with the info in these links, and its obviously not the Blu-Ray player itself, but the picture quality of the software. It seems to me like its still completely possible for Blu-Ray movies to look incredible, but it looks like the first batch of Blu-Ray movies went golden before The BRA (or Blu Ray Association) approved the use of Mpeg4 and VC-1 codecs, hence why their of such low quality. So as of this moment, to judge the Blu-Ray as a whole is quite a bit premature. The people (or most) who posted in that thread on the AVS forums have owned or own the Blu-Ray player, and even as a Blu-Ray supporter myself, If I had encountered those problems, I would be wanting my $1k back as well; and would definitely wait for more movies to release that dont have such poor PQ due to compressions issues. But. Blu-Ray's next big batch of movies could all come out with the compression and PQ issues resolved, and we could see an entirely far more positive kind of feedback if that happens. For now, at least for me, its a waiting game. I dont see Sony/Samsung letting the BD format die so easily due to poor compression quality on its discs. Too much money has been invested in this endeavor by Sony/Samsung for it to end like this.

beast0117
beast0117

[I'm sure I'm repeating what has already been written in some other post.] While I believe that Sony too often pushes their propritary formats, their certainly is a method to their madness. Sadly, it's all money-driven in royalties. Say what you will about Microsoft, but I've always apprecaited Bill Gates' vision of just making things more common and accessible. Anyway, while everything on a UMD could have easily been solved with a 3-inch DVD, i surrendered early on in the PSP's life. I actually like the [convieience] of the UMD movies a lot. Sure I can convert DVDs, but it's a pain for those of us with little spare time. And, I also liked the menus and Bonus Features. The price was where they failed! People often refer to the Betamax fiasco and Blu-Ray, but in truth, the Memory Stick is just the same thing; why not adopt SD or Compact Flash early on? Again, royalties! Nobody has mentioned the Mini-Disc either... that's more relevant in this situation. They simply tried to repalce CDs with an inferior, but smaller product. The UMD is just that to the 3-inch DVD. Still, I loved going on my plane or car ride and easily watching movies, listening to music and playing games. I DON'T want Memory Stick Movies... it's stupid! I want the UMD back (of the two). Sony should have topped each UMD movie at $14.99 (or less) to help push the format. Nobody wants to purchase a DVD twice (per se). Anyway, it seems that it's too late for the format... what a loss. Just a lower price tag and a home player (so that they could be more useful) was probably all that they needed to grow... ahh, the need for greed!

bulldog7
bulldog7

this is no surprise, this was coming a mile away. UMDs are terrible, plain and simple, they should have been half the price. But at least the movies are being released in another format, one that can live on through other sony products. Will blu-ray be Sony's first successful propriety media format? or will they just make a 40 gig Memory sticks to release HD movies on?

coolcool23
coolcool23

This sucks, no one would willingly put these movies on thier PSP. low res rootkit/DRM infested video files are not what I am into. Although i must confess that I did not buy any of the movie UMD disks. Whatever. Honestly if UMD movies fail Sony can still fall back on the fact that they are a proprietary device for games. I believe this is an andvatage for sony with blu-ray as well. if it fails they can always fall back on the knowledge that if the console itself sells, millions of blu-ray disks will still need to be produced for games.

SoralinkGS
SoralinkGS

The Problem UMD Movies faced was that they were launched with 20$ price tags+ they only played on PSPs, which are 200$. There was nothing good happening on UMD, and this continues to show as the format is quickly losing steam. And About Sony's Blu Ray Format, it has the terrible history of Sony's other Formats on it, but its way too early to declare HD-DVD a winner.

mrblah00
mrblah00

When are people going to stop making asses of themselves and actually look up what Bluray actually is? I wish game sites would be more responsible with how they describe Bluray, if they were more clear that Bluray is not some proprietary format created for Sony products then we wouldnt have 90% of the gaming population thinking Bluray is the devil and HD-DVD is some non-profit charity organization. HD-DVD is made by the DVD Forum, which was COFOUNDED by none other than SONY! It consists of a number of corporations pushing for the development of HD-DVD, Microsoft happens to be a major member (oh no! that must mean HD-DVD is a proprietary format made for the Xbox 360!). Bluray is made by the Bluray Association, which is also made up of a number of corporations pushing for Bluray development, Sony happens to be a member. Many former DVD Forum members are now part of the Bluray Association. So it doesnt have DVD in the title, GET OVER IT, that doesnt mean its some menacing proprietary format. DVD's didnt have "VHS" in the title and people made a fuss over that as well. DVD is a trademark. Just because the name is generic does not mean it isnt part of a bigger organization. Augh. I wish all the gaming news sites would join together and create an HD-DVD/Bluray FAQ so more people would realize that Bluray is not like UMD (rather than just covering the differences in size.) (and why are people talking about how HD-DVD has better image quality? Do they not realize that the picture is digital? If its digital then the media doesnt matter! A movie played on a floppy disc looks the same as a movie played on a $300 performance HDD because both are digital. If someones HD-DVD movie looks better than their Bluray movie then its because the HD-DVD player is better, not because HD-DVD's are some how magically better)

carl2tan
carl2tan

umd movies have failed. just like betamax, and minidisc, is blu ray next? I love my PSP! for the games only, i hate my umd movies, i never watch them ever. why buy them at the same or more cost that the DVD version, with no special editions or features. I like hot shots golf, street fighter alpha, daxter. just like my ps2, I ONLY USE IT FOR GAMES, NOT MOVIES. Where are the games??????????

Maquis_UK
Maquis_UK

loads of us are adults with DSes. only an idiot would feel the need to berate other gamers based on their ages. Resident Evil for kids is it ?Metroid ? you're making the mistake that a game needs a gaggle of whores and gangters to be mature, guess what kids, thats actually immature.... mmm delicious irony. honestly some peeps can't deal with reality at all. theirs is a hazy halflit world where umd, mini-disc, blu-ray and betamax are "standards" LMFAO. in my local Game today, psp was relegated to mid-shop, while Nintendo was front and centre with more shelf space. you work it out.

Generic_Dude
Generic_Dude

Not only can you get the actual DVD cheaper than the UMD, but you can rip it to a memory stick and still keep the DVD for home use... the only downside is that you'd miss out on Sony's bonus content (read: copy protection). This company needs to get their head out of their what-have-you and realize that gaming consoles need to be more focused on games and less focused on stillborn media formats.

MatthewNintendo
MatthewNintendo

This new idea is almost as bad at the UMD idea, why watch a movie on a tiny screen when you can watch it on a big wide screen tv at home for cheaper and get extras.

Sociologist
Sociologist

In my opinion, the PSP would have done much better if Sony had not given the home-brew community the shaft by requiring firmware upgrades if consumers wanted to play new games (such as GTA:LCS) on the PSP. Although I do not have statistics to support my argument (which is never a good thing!), I truly feel that modders and the home-brew enthusiasts can propel hardware sales. Although I understand that homebrew may lead to piracy, but all I'm arguing is that Sony seemed to harm some of its only supporters by wanting total control of the way the system is utilized and played. I understand that companies need to ensure that their Intellectual Properties are protected, but Sony went too far with the PSP, and the UMD format was the first nail in the coffin for an otherwise seemingly promising handheld console. It's a shame too, because with some tweaking, (such as buying an 8 hour battery and a 2 gig harddrive), the handheld was a lot of fun and was quite powerful. I ebayed mine a few months ago, after I saw the game line-up (or lack thereof) at E3.

runstalker
runstalker

These sad Blu-ray teething problems (broken compilers resulting in 5XXp, not HD, images) should be corrected by the time the PS3 debuts, thankfully. My sorrows to the earliest adopters, however.

simpsons_tv
simpsons_tv

You should be able to convert legally purchased DVDs to the PSP format legally and for free. Why would you want to pay twice for the same movie?

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

the movie thing is a bad idea...u can buy a regular one for the same price for a bigger screen

nev70
nev70

WHAT A SURPRISE !!!!!!!!! i was in woolys yesterday and to my horror there were UMD films for as much as £21'99 yeah really GO SONY GO

grnidbandit
grnidbandit

"Slim02 grnidbandit actually sony owns most of the blu-ray, if not all of it, the other companies are supporting it.. Wrong.. The other companies are members just like Sony is... They own as much of the format as Sony does... I think you need to some more research.. There is a difference between members and supporters..." Actually maybe you should start doing some research before you start opening your mouth before thinking and making yourself look like a fanboy, Sony owns the technology for blu ray, the other big companies are members who will be supporting blu ray either through their blu ray movies, standalone blu ray players, or blu ray players on the PC's. The reason why this is not proprietery is fact these companies other than sony suport blu ray, unlike UMD, ATRAC3, betamax , memory stick , which only sony supports. other companies happen to make memory sticks for sony, other than that sony has it all on their own when it comes to their proprietery media.

boxcarracer565
boxcarracer565

im with everyone else..y pay 20 bucks for a UMD on psp...when i can watch a dvd on a 20x bigger screen, surround sound, or home theatre? its pointless, and the new mem stick idea blows 2! sony, you suck.

acummuta
acummuta

Imavnas: Boy...you REALLY are defending Sony aren't you. So you're taking my word as nothing until I prove it...even though I said everywhere I went there were negative comments regarding BluRay. Sure, Toshiba has been bashed a little for their player, but that is changing with updates with issues like speed of time till playing movie and audio sync issues. But they've always said the video was good looking to amazing (depending on who you ask). I haven't read too many ill perceptions of the movies thus far. To supplement, I own a PSP, I own a PS2, I have a 50" Sony LCD rear projection tv. So I'm not on some "I hate Sony" kick...even IF they deserve it for their "lying to the people" capaigns of overpromising and underdelivering. and denying of blatant theft and calling it innovation. No, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about why HD-DVD is superior. But I can't deny that the PS2 has good games. I can't deny that my tv looks damn good, and I can't deny that I wish I never bought a PSP. Now that that's out of the way...your links. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000F99FDE/ref=pd_sxp_grid_pt_0_1/103-8273851-0670236?ie=UTF8 Here's some excerts from this page... "I tested both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray (for business purposes) and I'm afraid my expectations were true: the Blu-Ray is a faillure. Can you believe most of the movies that were released are in Enhanced definition (and not High Definition)????? I checked it and it is true. I got very disappointed. All HD-DVD titles are true Hi-Def. Period. One reviewer said this Samsung BR debut model is a mediocre DVD player. I did not find it mediocre... but i also must say that, as a DVD player, this model is no better than any $80 player around. I was expecting more from a $1000 player." and another... "So much has been said and written about Blu-ray. So it was with much excitement that I unwrapped my brand new Samsung BD-P1000 on launch day. Yet, after a weekend during which I tested four Blu-ray movies, as well as several standard DVDs, I couldn't help but be disappointed. In short, one expects this next-generation format to provide spectacular improvements over regular DVD. But, in truth, the differences are so slight that it makes me doubt the format's worth as a movie medium in its early stages." More links... Here's a nice smack to Sony's "superior" format http://www.projectorcentral.com/blu-ray_initialreport.htm Here's a poll done by BluRay player owners...to keep it or leave it. Guess which way it goes? Out of 250 owners...59 said they'd keep it. That's 76% in favor of getting rid of their BluRay player (and movies) http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=690621&highlight=bdp1000 I don't think I need to go on do I???

runstalker
runstalker

[quote]The movies will play in 240x320-pixel resolution, lower than the 480x272-pixel resolution PSPs are capable of.[/quote] Weeeeak sauce.

subrosian
subrosian

UMD was as terrible an idea as ATRAC was. Why would I pay $20 for a UMD movie that will only play on PSP when I could buy a DVD movie which I could play on my PSP, my computer, my DVD player, etc... Add in the fact that playing movies back on the UMD player leads to a lower battery life (due to disc read) than playing them back using the memory stick and you have a reciepe for disasterous sales. Sony - add UMD to the little closet you keep ATRAC and Betamax in.

Imavnas
Imavnas

"Blu-ray is a plus for gaming in some ways. The problem is that while the PS3 will play DVD and CD format stuff, blu-ray integration and the format itself is one of the main reasons for the $600 price tag. Being a tech person I do care about the things that can be done with the media...I just don't think I care enough to shell out that much cash." Many other tech heads will think otherwise though, and thats the majority of people the launch PS3 will appeal too. A year down the line, and the price will go down, and then itll appeal to a much broader audience.

HeroDreamerCS
HeroDreamerCS

Blu-ray is a plus for gaming in some ways. The problem is that while the PS3 will play DVD and CD format stuff, blu-ray integration and the format itself is one of the main reasons for the $600 price tag. Being a tech person I do care about the things that can be done with the media...I just don't think I care enough to shell out that much cash. People can only handle new formats ever 15-20 years...once something is established it'll take a big step in a)convenience and/or b)quality to even have a chance on going mainstream.

faizali86
faizali86

umd was a bad idea. its much more fun to watch movies at home or in theatres. the whole idea of using umds for movies sucked. dvd to mpeg converters were another reason why the umd movies died.

skemaal
skemaal

Whoever, at the head of sony, thought that this was going to be successful smoked some real good stuff. Anyone who follows this industry a bit knew that this was bound to fail.

Imavnas
Imavnas

"i don't see the ps3 being having bluray as a reason to buy it" Last I checked having Blu-Ray also meant it would affect games as now developers would have far more space to put their games into. That also means more content is possible, better visuals (higher bit rate and more space usable for an upgrade in visual quality), better sound, etc etc. Honestly, it strikes me as incredible how so many tech savvy people dont understand that more space can mean better everything (up to the limits of the PS3 processing and graphical power of course). Blu-Ray is definitely a plus for gaming.

japanesegoth
japanesegoth

"Betamax, Mini-disc, and now the UMD. Sony just really sucks at introducing new formats. I predict the same fate for Blu-Ray. " i also predict that. people aren't going to buy something that's way more expensive and can do practically the same thing, just with better quality. if americans can get something cheap, that's what they're gonna get. i have no problem with the quality of dvd's right now and i doubt most other people do either. i don't see the ps3 being having bluray as a reason to buy it.