Is Backward Compatibility Important to Vita Owners?

Players have always been really sensitive about backward compatibility. They really want this feature in any upcoming new console, but can you really blame them? After all, it extends their libraries considerably and even when some of them never actually play older games on their new systems, it’s great to know that the feature does in fact exist and that it’s there in case you want to try it.

Take the PlayStation Vita for example, the new handheld has a good launch lineup of titles but for many it’s still important that the console allows them to play PlayStation Portable and Minis games. Unfortunately, it has been officially confirmed that those people who own a large UMD collection won’t be able to transfer them to the new portable. Instead, these users are expected to re-buy all those titles in digital format. Thankfully, those who have been buying digital versions of PSP games will easily be able to transfer and play them on the Vita.

But even when I appreciate this feature, some people say that backwards compatibility is just silly. “Why would you want your PS3 to play PS2 games? If you think about it, you can probably find your old PlayStation 2 lying around there somewhere,” they may argue. But with portable systems this is definitely different and as most of you probably know, carrying more than one system is woefully inadequate and quite uncomfortable. If you have a Vita and you already own all those PSP games, why would Sony not let me play them? What if I just want to play the original Patapon or Burnout Legends on the bus?

Of course this makes more sense on a portable system and having a handheld that can play both new and old games is a terrific idea because it makes the system feel consistent and encourages users to carry it around. The PlayStation Vita is able to run Vita, PSP and Minis games right off the bat and soon the portable console is expected to be updated to run PSOne Classics also. All of these games are available digitally, something that is quite appealing as you don’t need to take cases with little discs. You just have the portable system with a big memory stick inside.

On a more personal note I’m quite excited to know that the Vita is backward compatible. As somebody who owns digital versions of a few PSP, Minis and PSOne games and is thinking about getting many more of these titles, this feature is excellent. If I ever end up getting Sony’s latest portable, knowing that I can play older games on the system represents a big plus. After all, I spend a lot of time playing older titles anyway so if I do get the new handheld it’s simply amazing to know that the transition will be smooth. With a better screen, more powerful CPU and dedicated controls, the PlayStation Vita seems like a great portable system and the fact that we can play older games on the system is definitely good news. What do you think? Do you also consider backward compatibility an important issue when getting a new console?