The Playstation Vita doesn’t have a UMD drive (thank god,) but it is still technically backwards compatible with PSP games: most PSP games downloaded via the PSN Store are fully playable on Sony’s shiny new handheld. In Japan, PSP owners can register their UMD games with PSN in order to receive partially discounted digital versions of all of their old games, but unfortunately, Sony announced today that they aren’t extending that measure of good will to American PSP and Vita owners.
Any PSP games purchased digitally from the PSN Store will be transferable, of course (including the free games given away last year as part of Sony’s apology for the PSN downtime,) but if you want to keep playing your UMD-based releases, you’re going to have to keep that old PSP handy.
It’s a disappointing move on Sony’s part (especially if you’re like me and have managed to accrue a pretty sizable collection of UMD’s over the years,) but it’s understandable, given the differences between the Japanese and American PSP markets. The UMD Passport program makes sense in Japan, where both the PSP has enjoyed great success and Japanese gamers have literally bought millions upon millions of UMD’s (most of them stamped with the name “Monster Hunter,” no doubt,) but in America, things are much different, as the PSP never managed to attract much of an audience. A similar UMD redemption/trade-in program in the States probably just isn’t worth the expense to Sony, as it would only appeal to a very small niche audience.
Oh, and in case you want to read more about the PSP games you now won’t be able to transfer over to the Vita, I recently compiled a list of my top 10 PSP games, which you can read here.