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Sony today revealed an initial list of retail PSP titles that will be transferable to Japanese Vita systems for a fee via a download program. However, the list covers less than half of the former Sony portable’s library of games, and leaves out many releases from some major Japanese publishers.
The Vita, which launches in Japan Dec. 17 and worldwide in early 2012, does not include a drive for the Universal Media Discs used to play PSP games. As a solution to that backward compatibility problem, Sony revealed the Japanese UMD Passport program, which lets PSP owners register their UMD game purchases so they can download Vita-compatible versions. Although, it costs game owners about $5 to $19 per game to do this.
Today, Sony Japan revealed a list of 262 UMD titles (out of the over 600 total titles) from PSP’s library that will be available on Vita through the Passport program. While the list includes many popular titles from Sony as well as major publishers like Atlus, Tecmo Koei and SNK Playmore, Siliconera points out that key publishers like Square Enix, Namco Bandai, Konami and Capcom are not represented.
That means several PSP titles from major franchises — like Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Tekken and Monster Hunter — won’t be transferable to the Vita when the system launches. Though it’s largely unknown in the west, Capcom’s Monster Hunter series consistently top sales charts in Japan and has been known to cause significant hardware sales spikes when games are released. Not having it available might end up being a big deal for some Vita owners.
Of course, that’s not to say that some of those major publishers won’t eventually open up their entire PSP libraries for Vita download. As we’ve previously seen, many publishers have slowly started offering more of their classic games for sale on digital marketplaces, like the Wii’s Virtual Console and Sony’s PlayStation Network. And while it’s typical for a vocal (loud) group of hardcore players to demands backward compatibility of old games on new systems, the majority of game consumers largely ignore the issue.
Still, with limited (and somewhat costly) support for the passport transfer program in Japan (as well as no official plans for similar programs in North America and Europe), the launch of the Vita may represent a larger break with Sony’s portable past than some gamers had hoped.