A new report by VGC reveals that Microsoft has talked to developers and publishers about making games that will be getting upgraded for Xbox Series X free instead of charging it as paid DLC, similar to what 2K is doing for NBA 2k21. Instead of a free upgrade from current-gen to next-gen, consumers can buy a bundle that contains both a current-gen version for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and a next-gen version for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Ultimately, Microsoft would like developers and publishers to utilize their Smart Delivery program but in the end, it’s up to the developers and publishers on how they want to sell their game.
With Smart Delivery, players will get the best version of the game on whichever console they are playing on at no additional cost. So, if someone gets a game for Xbox One and shifts to Xbox Series X, if the game is using Smart Delivery, then the player will get the Xbox Series X version of the game. All Xbox Game Studios titles will be utilizing the feature and third parties can use the feature if they choose to.
The way everything works, if a game doesn’t support Smart Delivery before releasing on Xbox One and Xbox Series X, then they cannot add support for the feature at a later date. Games that don’t support Smart Delivery are treated separately across the Xbox ecosystem. Only certain Xbox Live elements like multiplayer unifying both versions. Save data will not be shared across generations. If the game supports Smart Delivery, then all Xbox Live elements are shared – saves, achievements, and more.
Developers and publishers could also choose to offer a discount for the next-gen version of the game on the Microsoft store or do their own thing similar to 2k and EA who is using what the company calls “dual entitlement.” They’ve announced that players who purchase Madden NFL 21 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One can upgrade to the next-gen version free of charge but you can’t get the digital version of the game if you have a physical copy. Microsoft is planning to formally announce its cheaper, discless next-gen console Xbox Series S sometime in August. Sony announced a digital edition of the PlayStation 5 at the PlayStation 5 reveal event.
As of now, games getting a free next-gen upgrade for Xbox Series X include Cyberpunk 2077, Destiny 2, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Destiny 2. PlayStation has announced that it’s up to the developers to figure out upgrades for PlayStation 5. They are matching Xbox’s vision for free upgrades and announced that Marvel’s Avengers, Cyberpunk 2077, and FIFA 21 will get an upgrade from PS4 to PS5 for free.
A Microsoft spokesperson said, “developers and publishers ultimately decide how they deliver their games, and we work with them to provide the best possible experience based on their needs.”