Microsoft has allegedly warned Xbox Series X developers against charging for DLC upgrades from the Xbox One to the generation that will succeed it. The intent seems to be disincentivizing publishers from charging money for a service that Microsoft wants to be a serious aspect of their Smart Delivery platform. Naturally, Microsoft wants the smoothest transition possible between console generations, with no barriers to players keeping their games when moving to the Xbox Series X. Of course, something like that would generally cost a bit of money.
VGC reports that Microsoft is encouraging all relevant publishers to choose a no-cost upgrade model instead of charging for upgrades, like Microsoft’s Smart Delivery or EA’s Dual Entitlement. However, the report doesn’t state for certain if Microsoft has made an official rule against the notion of publishers charging for upgrades on their gaming platforms. In the case of entities such as EA, there is a limited amount of time to make the upgrade. That said, with yearly releases like Madden, you’ll be able to get the Xbox Series X version of the game provided that you buy it prior to the release of the next entry in the series.
Even though Microsoft made such a warning, they still said that they would leave the opportunity to make other means of allowing upgrades. Not including the aforementioned free digital upgrades, Microsoft hasn’t completely shut down notions like selling a next-gen version of games at discounted prices, or making “cross-gen bundles” bundles available that would include both versions of whatever game was in question. Such a bundle has come to pass already, with the announcement of NBA 2K21’s Kobe Bryant edition, which will sell both versions for the game for the bundled price of $100. The regular edition on both the Xbox One X and the Xbox Series X will cost $60 on current-gen and $70 on next-gen, which could very well be the normal prices gamers can expect from here on out.
That said, this notion makes a fair deal of sense. Microsoft is determined to make Smart Delivery a large part of its plans for the next generation of Xbox, going so far as to promise that they will not publish any next-gen exclusives for the beginning of the Series X’s lifecycle. The company seems intent on making this as smooth a transition as possible, striving to make a few hard and insurmountable distinctions between the generations of consoles. If publishers were to charge people for such upgrades, many publishers would likely choose to do so, which wouldn’t really work well together with the message Microsoft is trying to get across.
This is a pretty significant change compared to console generations of the past, which traditionally didn’t offer a discount of any sort when it came to moving on to the next generation. This was even the case at the start of the current generation when many games were the exact same for the previous gen and the current one.
Taking all of this into consideration, only about a dozen games have been announced for Smart Delivery thus far, naturally including all the revealed first-party titles, such as Halo Infinite, and a couple of noteworthy third party titles like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077.
On the other hand, Sony has not made the same move as Microsoft, and they have made it clear they have no intent to do the same thing with the PlayStation 5. They will be publishing PS5 exclusives right from launch.