Sony is about to launch its new PlayStation Vita in North America. While there are plenty of original games for the handheld system on the way, it's understandable that Vita owners will also want to play beloved older PlayStation Portable games that are available on the PlayStation Store. What if your PSP collection is mostly comprised of the old so-last-generation UMD discs? In Japan, Sony has offered the UMD Passport program in which PSP owners can register their UMDs with the PlayStation Network and then download the verified game for a small fee that's less of a cost than outright buying the game itself in downloadable format. When can we expect the passport service to become available in North America? According to Kotaku, likely never.
Sony has told Kotaku that there will not be a North American version of the UMD Passport program, which would allow PlayStation Vita users to transfer their PSP discs to the upcoming handheld. Unless Sony changes its mind or announces some sort of alternative option, North American PSP owners will have no way to play their UMDs on the Vita, though they will be able to access any PSP games they purchased digitally.
While I hate to hear this, I'm not exactly surprised. We ran into this same issue when the PSP Go launched, after all, and if I had to guess, I bet the reasoning behind this decision has to do with the used gaming market. While plenty of people would dig out their old UMDs to link them up to PSN, many more new Vita owners would dash out to GameStop and pick up armloads of cheap used UMDs, thereby depriving Sony and its publishing partners of perceived deserved revenue. There's money on the table in this situation and Sony isn't about to let any of it get away (particularly in the era of online passes).