Sony downplays "leaked" PSP manual

Seeking to allay concerns about region-coded games for its forthcoming portable, Sony says a manual registered with the FCC is a "work in progress."

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Today, the Web was bubbling with reports that copies of the American manual for the PSP contain a nasty surprise. Namely, said manual flatly says that, contrary to statements from Sony, games for its forthcoming portable will not be region-free.

While some sites say the manual was "leaked," it is actually on public display on the Web site for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Along with a bunch of FCC testing documentation, the page contains an early English-language copy of the PSP manual. Stamped "Tentative" in giant red letters on its cover, the manual features screenshots still in Japanese, as well as printing marks and several instances of unproofed copy.

But what got most gamers' attention was the second section of page 100 of the manual (pictured), which is devoted to "Compatible Media" for the PSP. Under the heading "UMD"--the propriety Universal Media Disc format used by the handheld--the manual says the following: "UMD contain a region code that is assigned to each sales region. This system can play UMD marked with either region code 'All' or '1.'"

The manual is in line with Sony's public statements that nongame UMD media like movies and music would be region encoded. However, the sweeping nature of the passage, which implies that all UMDs--including those containing game data--would be region encoded goes against Sony's proclamations that the PSP would feature "region-free gaming."

When contacted by GameSpot, Sony Computer Entertainment America representatives were quick to dispel the rumors. "It is a 'work in progress' manual," said one rep. "The PSP adopts both 'worldwide' and 'regional' code system. For PSP games, we have adopted a worldwide code system, and as previously disclosed, games are region free."

A similar furor erupted when the PSP was first released in Japan, as some boxes for the device clearly bore the Region 2 UMD logo. This was also true of some early copies of Ridge Racers for the handheld.

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