Better keep that aging PlayStation Portable around if you want to play your old games. Sony has confirmed that North American PS Vita owners will not be getting the "UMD Passport program" that allows PSP games to be transferred to digital form for a small price.
Not getting the UMD Passport program isn't that big of a deal, but for core gamers, no backward compatibility is a deal-breaker. It's one of the reasons why Nintendo still dominates the dedicated handhelds space. Its DS and DS Lite supported legacy Game Boy Advance games along with new DS games. And its 3DS supports DSi and DS games along with 3DS games. That's quite a library of games to choose from, when you're a shopper.
This also isn't the first time Sony's stumbled on backwards compatibility. The original PlayStation 3 launched with PlayStation 2 support. The feature was eventually eliminated with the arrival of the PS3 Slim.
Those UMD games might be useless on a new Vita, but all is not lost. All digital copies of PSP games downloaded from
PlayStation Network Sony Entertainment Network will work fine on the Vita, provided you have a large enough memory card to hold them.
Hate to tell you, but if you're still holding onto those UMDs, maybe it's time to turn them into drink coasters. The UMD dream is dead. Really dead now. Long live the Vita.
UPDATE: Here's Sony's official response (via Giant Bomb). As expected, they're playing up the PS Vita's ability to upscale digital PSP games. It's not a comforting response to those of us who invested heavily in UMDs (I have a box of UMD games and movies).
"SCEA will not be offering the UMD Passport program. U.S. consumers who already own digital versions of select PSP titles will be able to seamlessly transfer those games to their PS Vita system. What's great for PS Vita owners is that they can enjoy PSP games with upscaled video quality that's ideal for the system's 5-inch OLED screen, along with controls that are optimized for its features such as the dual analog sticks. More than 250 PSP titles (including minis) will be available at the launch of PS Vita, and hundreds of additional titles will be available post-launch."