Sony may be taking a rather unusual step at retail with Patapon 2, making the PSP a digital download only, but still offering a boxed copy at retail. How would that work, exactly?
According to Ars Technica's unnamed sources, Sony will release the Patapon sequel via the PlayStation Store as downloadable goods, bypassing a UMD release for the boxed version in North America. What will ship with the box is a voucher for the game, according to Ars' report, which can then be downloaded to the PSP.
A recently updated GameFly listing may confirm that rumor.
The online rental outlet's Patapon 2 page now lists the game as "Not Rentable," a very recent change. GameFly typically lists a title as "not rentable" due to peripheral restrictions, as in the case of Eye of Judgment or Time Crisis 4, which require bundled accessories to play.
While the shipping of what is essentially an empty box may sound unusual, it may simply be a model that Sony is testing at retail, if rumors of the UMD-free PSP-4000 are accurate. Doing so with a budget priced PSP game, one that's already likely to appeal to an established fan base, would be a generally safe bet.
The game has already shipped on UMD in other regions of release, with the U.S. release scheduled for May 5th.
And the sale of vouchers for downloadable games is not unprecedented. Rockstar Games apparently saw some success with the release of Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost & Damned by selling branded Microsoft Point cards at retail.
We've contacted Sony Computer Entertainment reps seeking comment, but have not heard back yet. We'd consider this an interesting rumor for now and will obviously update when we hear more.
New Sony PSP trend? Retail Patapon 2 rumored to be UMD-free [Ars Technica]