Kotaku has allegedly received reports from Sony that the UMD passport program will not be available to PS Vita users in North America. The UMD passport program is a downloadable service from the PS Store which allows users to register their PSP games on their SEN accounts and redownload them for a variable price onto their new PS Vitas. With this program unavailable, the North American PS Vita will be completely non-backwards compatible with any UMD games. However, it will still have access to the PSN, including minis and PSOne Classics.
Gamasutra has reached out to Sony for a comment but has thus far received no comment.
Analysis: At this point, I don’t even know whether to be outraged or content that such a scam Sony had the gall to call a “service” isn’t going to be sucking money out of honest people’s pockets in North America.
Chris Bowen already wrote about this registration program on this web site when it debuted in Japan, and he explained the depth of this before much better than I can: You pay money to Sony so you can play games you already legally own, which you then download for a different price depending on the game. Why different prices? Because Sony can do it. Some of these games are prices at nearly $20. After that, you download the game, sucking your bandwidth, onto your PS Vita’s very expensive proprietary memory cards. Prices for the cheapest 4 gig is about $25, so you’d have to buy another one two or three games later.
Compare this to nearly every console today, where the process of playing an older generation game is pretty much turn-on-system-play-game, and you see how Sony’s “UMD Passport” system is a scam that would make Charles Ponzi jealous.
So just hold on to your old PSPs. If you don’t have one, then remember that all the suckers trading in their PSPs to buy a Vita will drive the price for a used PlayStation Portable down to very affordable levels.