Using The PSN Store
There are several ways to buy games for the PS Vita, but if memory card space is tight, then you really need to be a smart shopper when it comes to buying games digitally. While buying games on the PS Vita or PlayStation TV is easy enough there are two things that you need to bear in mind. First, with the PlayStation TV its store simply doesn’t offer a comprehensive list of all of the games that are available for the console, missing many key titles meaning that most need to be found by a manual search.
More importantly, and this applies to the PS Vita as well, is that neither version of the stores give any indication as to the amount of space required on your memory card. So how can you tell whether you have the space for them? The only way to do it is to buy your games through the PS3 or the web-based version of the PSN Store and then access your purchases using the Download Manager. Unfortunately, the PS3 version of the store is sadly lacking when it comes to its listings so most games will need to be searched for manually, especially when it comes to PSP, PS One and Minis, but at least you’ll have ample information at your fingertips.
Something that we would like to stress here is that in addition to the sizes being listed for PS Vita, PS One, Minis and PSP titles it is indicated clearly which older games are Vita compatible so you can’t buy games by mistake (this is important for PSP and PS One games as the back catalogue from EA isn’t accessible to all territories right now). Also, we do want to stress that when it comes to PlayStation TV compatability, please do not rely on information presented in the PSN Store as some of this is out of date or inaccurate.
If you are limited to the number of cards you are able to own, but aren’t too comfortable with the idea of deleting and re-downloading games constantly from the PSN Store, then you’ll need to make use of Content Manager. One of the best pre-installed features of the PS Vita, as well as allowing you to copy music, images and videos between your PC/Mac/PS3 and Vita it also acts as a back-up and transfer tool for games and save game data and works for PS Vita, PSP, Minis, PS One and PlayStation Mobile titles.
Assuming you’ve already downloaded the software for your computer if you have chosen that route, using Content Manager is simplicity itself. As well as providing a breakdown of how your memory cards are being used you can copy files individually or multiple files at once both to and from your computer or PS3 allowing to manage your memory cards quickly and easily. For PS Vita, PSP, PS One and Minis, you can purchase titles on the PSN Store on your PS3 and download them on there and transfer them to your Vita (ideal if you are using a faster wired connection for the console rather than the Vita’s wi-fi) and if you simply need more storage and want to delete games you no longer play, just remove them from your cards and keep them elsewhere until you want them again.
Why Use Content Manager?
Why copy them rather than re-install games though? The key thing is save game data. For older games, save game data is stored as separate files on your memory cards so you can delete the games knowing that your save files are safe. However, when it comes to native PS Vita and PlayStation Mobile titles, the save data is embedded in the game itself (apart from PS Vita games that store save data on the physical retail cards). This means that once you delete a game from your Vita, it takes the save data with it. At present, the only way to keep your save data is using PlayStation Plus’ cloud storage (and hope that the game in question supports it), use Cross Save for multiformat titles, or copy the entire game using Content Manager.
This certainly isn’t an idea approach but for now these are only choices that PS Vita owners have. However, one thing I must stress here is that despite its usefulness, Content Manager isn’t completely stable and has been prone to crashes. If you are copying a large number of files it has been known to freeze and the only way to recover from this is to power off your PS Vita and restart it so I would strongly advise copying files in small batches and keeping notes nearby of what you are copying.
Save Game Data
As I mentioned, one thing that is important to understand is how the PS Vita handles save game data. Each type of game manages this differently and when using multiple memory cards or transferring content between them, understanding save game data is essential. For native digital PS Vita titles and PlayStation Mobile games / apps, all save data is embedded in the game files themselves. Copying or deleting the game or app will result in deleting the save file.
Physical game cards work in one of two ways. While most store save data to the cards, some will install data to the PS Vita memory card and will use this for it’s game save data. It’s important, therefore, to check when copying data with Content Manager to check if any game files exist for your physical games. While much of this will be patches or updates, some of this will be important game data.
PS One and PSP games differ as these save files are stored separately on the Vita and will need to be transferred individually using Content Manager but we would strongly advise copying PS One save files using a PC rather than a PS3. These are unusual because the PS Vita creates virtual memory cards for the PS One. On a PC you can transfer these “memory cards” as a whole to and from the PC, but using a PS3 you need to open these virtual cards and copy individual save files making backing up data more complicated.