European Launch Uncertain, Unlikely
The PS Vita's lack of a UMD drive means that it won't be backwards-compatible with your physical PSP games collection, but we were delighted to discover that Sony planned to allow existing PSP owners to re-purchase new copies of their library with a discount thanks to the UMD Passport application.
However, despite rolling out the service in Japan, Sony has refused to issue it in the US, instead stating that "consumers who already own digital versions of select PSP titles will be able to seamlessly transfer those games to their PS Vita system." This makes a European launch incredibly unlikely, and we've got more details below.
In a statement made to Giant Bomb, Sony confirmed that the UMD Passport will not be available in the US without actually giving a reason - while reiterating that already-downloaded digital versions will be compatible with the Vita. PSP GO owners will be delighted.
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.
Sony has yet to confirm whether or not the service will be available in Europe, but it's not looking good. After numerous major publishers failed to back the UMD Passport programme when it launched in Japan, it was certainly left as a bit of a toothless lion, but has Sony driven a wedge between the Vita and PSP owners?