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Game Developer Enters UMD Authoring

5 Apr, 2006 By: John Gaudiosi

Backbone Entertainment, part of Foundation 9 Entertainment — the largest independent U.S. video game developer — is the first game studio to provide UMD movie authoring for the PlayStation Portable.

The studio is working with Japanese game publisher Capcom to bring its popular anime Night Warriors to UMD. Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge and Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge Omega ship this month from Capcom for $20 each. Capcom shipped Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower game for PSP last March for the handheld's launch.

Mike Mika, head of Backbone Entertainment's Emeryville studio, said their technology allows them to take any video source and master it to Sony's UMD video format.

“It's very similar to what movie houses do when they convert their films to DVD,” Mika said. “There are very few mastering shops out there that can take on the workload. It was a natural step for us because of our experience with the PSP for games.”

Mika said that because his studio is a game developer that works on PSP games, they can provide unique mixed-media scenarios like the one Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Sony Computer Entertainment America experimented with last fall with the Stealth UMD movie that featured three levels of WipeOut Pure.

“If a studio would like to have a game packed in with the movie, we can provide that,” Mika said. “We also are seeing scenarios where we are working on a game for a movie release for the PSP. When that game comes out on UMD, we can offer extra content such as levels and characters to extend the experience of the original game.”

On the gaming side, Mika said the PSP has resurrected some great franchises and extending new franchises. Offering UMDs with the launch of these games makes a lot of sense, he said.

“You're giving gamers the best of both worlds on the same format,” said Mika, who said his studio has only scratched the surface of what can be done with UMD.

Mika pointed out that despite its multimedia functionality, PSP is still a gaming device.

“Somewhere along the way, someone figured out that On Golden Pond doesn't sell to PSP owners.”

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