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The Final PSP Comic Store Update

Comic fans might feel a little hurt over this, but there is always an upside in the details.
Author: Ryan Green
Published: July 7, 2011
Yesterday on the PlayStation Blog, Grace Chen (Director of the U.S. PlayStation Store) announced that the Comic Store will not be updated for an undetermined period of time. In her brief statement, she made a point to say that the digital comics will no longer be updated on the PSP, which leads to some ambiguity surrounding the following point:

"The Digital Comics Team will continue to work on bringing the comic service to other Sony devices. We’ll make sure to keep you updated with any future developments right here on the PlayStation.Blog."

While the digital comics section will remain in a state of limbo for new content, the existing content will remain available for purchase and download to any PSP system with the Digital Reader application installed. As mentioned, there are over 4,000 comics available to download at this time at various price points.

The Golden Age of Comics

The PlayStation Network Comics Store launched in December of 2009. In just a few short years, Sony was able to amass a sizable collection of comics, consisting of popular franchises, tie-in content, and some letter known works. Of note, Marvel, DC, and TokyoPop were all on board with the marketplace.

Incentivising gamers to engage in dying art, Sony provided easy access through a firmware update to their new digital reader. Further helping the somewhat muttled experience, free comics, preview editions, and a web-based search interface (seen here) were added to help promote the fledgling venture.

But one point needs to be recognized, and that is how late in the PlayStation Portable's lifespan that the Digital Reader was introduced. Although the application worked well and provided a cinematic presentation to comic book reading on a diminutive device, the PlayStation Portable was on it's way out entering 2010. With the end of the PSP at the hands of the PlayStation Vita, Sony made the obvious decision to shut down development for the older system.

New Hope In The Modern Age

While this does mean the end for PSP support (at the very least overall), it does lead to some speculation on our part. In Grace Chen's aforementioned quote, there are other "Sony devices" that are perhaps more capable of displaying a comic than the PlayStation Portable. With the influx of tablet devices in the portable electronics market, Sony has begun work on a new tablet computer that would be well suited for comic reading.

But within Sony Computer Entertainment, the PlayStation Vita may be the next logical step. For SCEA, there is now only one device they will have full control over, and putting the existing comic database onto the PlayStation Vita may not be a difficult task for their engineers. While we can only speculate what the future will bring for the digital comics on the PlayStation platform, we should expect some continuation in the not so distant future. Perhaps a touch interface is all that Sony and the comic industry needs to brings some life back to their struggling mediums.