Kotaku is reporting that Sony will not be bringing its Japanese UMD Passport program to North America, removing the only method for PlayStation Vita owners to play their collection of PlayStation Portable universal media discs (UMDs) on the new handheld (PSP games downloaded from the PlayStation Network will still work on the Vita, however). While this is obviously bad news for anyone who wants to play their battered old copy of Lumines on a slightly larger screen, it made us wonder how important backward compatibility really is to a system's retail success.
We were perfectly ready to speculate wildly on that very topic, but it turns out there's no need. Someone has actually crunched the numbers and tried to develop a statistical model to show just how valuable backward compatibility is for a portable system's overall market share. And the results show that Sony just might pay a price for its decision to ignore all the UMD owners out there.