When Sony announced the PSP Vita, I got flashes of the PSPGo all over again. The Vita is the next handheld in Sony’s PSP line. Much like the PSPGo before it, the Vita will be downloadable games only. This in and of itself is not a horrible thing as it follows the trends in the handheld market to move away from disks and cartridges. What makes this bad is that Sony is continuing the illusion that it will somehow be backward compatible with the original PSP.
Just like the PSPGo, Sony is promising that owners of current PSP UMD based games will be able to transfer those games to a digital format that the Vita can play. This would pretty neat if it didn’t cost money. You see, if you want to transfer your games, you aren’t really transferring them. You are buying the digital version at a discount. That’s it. This will not get a lot of use out of PSP owners who would rather just jailbreak their current PSP and download the ROMs.
On top of all that, not all game developers are on board. Absent from the list of participating developers are the likes of Capcom, SquareEnix and Konami. These are the developers of the games people really want to play. Yet, they won’t be available for transfer. This is another strike against the transfer program. If these developers don’t feel confident in their ability to make extra money through this then why is Sony even doing it?
The answer is probably in some inane need to retain what semblance of backward compatibility they have remaining. But that is not really a reason to waste everyone’s time with a program that will most likely be scrapped in a year after launch. They probably would have had more success just following a Nintendo Virtual Machine style program where the downloadable versions of older games are already discounted to a point that most people wouldn’t think twice about buying their favorites. That would be a far better proposition and would probably get more developers and gamers on board.