Kojima’s ‘Transfarring’: Keep Playing PS3 Games on Your PSP

During Konami’s pre-E3 event last week, Hideo Kojima took some pre-recorded time to explain the idea he’d pitched at Sony’s announcement of its NGP handheld (now believed to be called the Sony Vita). It’s called “Transfarring,” and it’s a great idea that has a goofy name.

Transfarring is basically a method of transferring saved game data from the PS3 to the PSP. But instead of just using the PSP as a second hard drive, Transfarring makes the data available for games played on the PSP. The idea is that you can play a game on the PS3, save your place, “Transfar” the data over to the PSP, then fire up the game on your handheld while you’re out in the world and continue playing the game wherever you are.

Sending data from PS3 to PSP is called “Transfarring Out,” while sending that data from PSP back to PS3 is called “Transfarring In.” Just like carrying your data out to the PSP to keep playing, you can repeat the process and continue your game back on the PS3.

Kojima detailed transfarring as being part of the new HD remake of Metal Gear Solid: Peacemaker, the PS3 version of the game previously only available on the PSP. There weren’t any other games detailed for transfarring, unfortunately, but in its first stage, the games will have to be limited to just those that will be available on the PSP. That means we won’t be seeing transfarring available on any games that the PSP can’t handle, and that limits the kinds of PS3 games that the service will be compatible with.

But Kojima and Koanmi don’t intend to keep transfarring limited to just PS3-to-PSP capability. There’s actually a three-step plan in place: step one, PS3 to PSP, will be realized by Peacewalker and the first batch of transfarring-capable titles.

Step Two is to bring transfarring of PS2 games to the PS3 and the NGP. While Kojima didn’t give many details, it sounds like Sony intends to make its NGP capable of playing PS2 titles (it certainly is powerful enough to do so), so when those titles are available to PS3 players (likely as downloads through the Playstation Network), they should be able to utilize transfarring just like they did with Peacewalker and the PS3.

The final step with transfarring will be to bring the PS3 in full compatibility with the NGP — basically, the exact capability Kojima detailed at the NGP announcement. That would mean that at least some PS3 games need to be playable on the NGP, and that begs some questions about just how powerful the device will be, and whether it will be able to handle full-on PS3 retail titles, or if Kojima is referring to smaller, downloadable games.

There are a lot of details in this whole shebang that we don’t have yet. No information about the roll-out of the latter two steps of the transfarring process — PS2 game compatibility between the PS3 and NGP, and PS3 to NGP — will actually be available. In fact, we’ll be waiting until at least about the end of the year when the NGP becomes available for transfarring to even become an option. From the sounds of things and the lack of details, though, don’t expect fully functional transfarring until much further down the line.

We also don’t know what the scope of transfarring will actually be. It’s not clear whether Konami is licensing the technology to other game developers, or if that’s even an option since it’s so reliant on existing Sony hardware and software. Konami has created a real logo for the service, and has even shown off boxes with the transfarring logo branded on them along side the Sony emblem. That suggests that transfarring is a license-able service — very good news for PSP owners, although time will tell if any other games actually implement the technology.

The good news is that some version of transfarring, it seems, will be available this year with MGS: Peacewalker HD. The bad news is that just when it’ll be a full-on, prime time service for the NGP isn’t clear at all. And while there were some hints that perhaps some kind of transfarring technology might be possible between other platforms, it requires a lot of reading into what Kojima said and rampant speculation. We just don’t have the information at this point, and Kojima’s words just weren’t clear enough to make real assumptions about what’s coming down the line.

So far, if you’re a Metal Gear fan with a PSP, you have reason to be excited. The rest of us have reason to keep an eye on Konami during the back half of 2011 and the early part of 2012.

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