Since the announcement that the Vita would, unsurprisingly, not have a UMD slot, people have been wondering, as they wondered back when the PSPGo came out, "What about our UMDs?" These are games that have been purchased by us for the same platform and format that is going to be supported by the Vita via Backwards Compatibility and, seeing as how the Go went, many feared the answer would be simply to re-purchase your games as digital versions all over again. This is, understandably, a grim proposition that people have been waiting with baited breath for a confirmation on one way or another to either sigh in a moment of relief or a moment of disappointment. Well, now we know and my reaction is the former, personally.
The UMD Passport program (which will be launched as a free application for the PSP sometime in Japan) assumes some very basic things that, well, are not hard to satisfy. You have to A) Have a PSP and UMDs, B) A Vita and C) Access to the Playstation Network. According to the post, if I'm reading it right, what you'll need to do is, access the Playstation Store on your PSP and go to the section that has the UMD Registration Programs (Or, as I'm thinking of it thanks to the name, the Passports) and purchase the one for the game you want to 'transfer'. Put in that UMD and run the passport, which will register said UMD and then add a digital version of your game to your Playstation Network account that you can then access on your Vita and download said game.
Now, people will take this, that you're buying the license for a digital version of a game you own physically, and say that you are, in fact, re-buying the game. And this is not a difficult statement to make, especially because the pricing for every license is going to vary based on several factors; chief of which is the
Of course, the program isn't perfect, even if it's actually a pretty good middle-ground between the two extremes of "Buy everything! Again!" and "GIVE US EVERYTHING FOR FREE". For starters, games have to be implemented into the program for you to be able to purchase a passport for it, obviously. This puts yet another limit on the already (slightly) limited library of Digital games available on the Playstation Store, since, quite simply, not all games on the store will be in this program. Whether it's because the developers don't want to fuss with it, there's some sort of legal issues involved, or something else, there is a very real possibility of the games involved in the Passport system to be dwarfed by the amount of games on the store proper. (Squeenix, Capcom, I'm worried about you two being the biggest dicks here)
Not only that but, as I mentioned above in not-so-many-words, the game has to actually be on the Playstation Store first for there to be a possibility here. For instance, unless something can be done to smooth over the issues Lumines has had with getting on the Store, simply having the UMD will not be enough to be able to play it on the Vita, unfortunately. Seeing as the Store pretty much has the bulk of the necessities (some outliers notwithstanding) this shouldn't be too much of an issue, but it is still an issue which some will take and clutch onto in fervent denial that this is the best attempt that can be made.
For what it's worth, as I've stated a couple times, I believe this is the best effort that can be made here, really. Sony can't give you digital versions/the right to digital versions of a game no matter what, and they can't give you a tool that would do a similar thing (the UMD reader/converter thing that was spoken of long, long ago), but the developers can decide to reward its customers with a chance to have a second, future-ready version of their game at a lower cost than just buying it once more. As with everything else, for better or worse, Sony is leaving this one up to the developers; it's their games after all. So it's just up to them as to how consumer friendly they want to be. Of course, this will stop nobody from whinging and blaming Sony because Squeenix won't put Crisis Core on the Store, but, well, that's the internet for you.