Typically, if you want a new handheld, you can trade in your now-old flavor to save some scratch. You keep your game library, of course, since most new consoles are backwards compatible by at least one generation of hardware.
The PS Vita, however, is not. Sony championed their UMD as the next big media format when the PSP launched. They crammed games and movies on the small disks and promised us they’d be here to stay. The PS Vita does not include a UMD drive; which is fine, the format wasn’t all that great.
So, if you buy a PS Vita, you’ll need to keep your PSP on hand in order to play your older games. Sony will be making the PSP library available on their online store for the PS Vita; that means you’ll be able to re-buy and download digital versions of games you either missed or already own whenever you like.
That’s right, if you want to ditch your PSP for a PS Vita, you’ll need to pony up the scratch to re-buy your old games for the new system. In Japan, however, Sony rolled out what’s called the UMD Passport Program. With it, Japanese gamers can download an app onto their PSP, insert their UMDs into the device and have them tied to their Sony Entertainment Network accounts. Then, when they hit the store on the PS Vita, they’ll receive a discount for having purchased the game once before.
It’s not great, but it’s better than paying full price.
Now, Kotaku reports that Sony will not be bringing a UMD Passport Program to North America for its consumers. You will not be able to play your old UMDs on the new system, and you’ll need to re-buy your old games at full price.
I won’t be trading my old PSP in for the PS Vita specifically because of this. I own way too many great games that would be rendered unplayable if I did.