Microsoft has reportedly warned Xbox Series X developers against charging for DLC upgrades from the current generation to the next one. The move appears aimed at disincentivizing publishers from charging for a service that Microsoft is trying to make a major pillar of its platform with Smart Delivery. Microsoft wants a smoother transition between console generations with players able to keep their games, and get upgrades, when moving to Xbox Series X. Normally, that would cost quite a bit of money.
VGC reports that the company is encouraging publishers to instead adopt a no-cost upgrade model, like either Smart Delivery or EA’s Dual Entitlement. The report doesn’t state definitively whether Microsoft has made a formal rule the practice of charging for upgrades on its platform. With EA’s program, you don’t have unlimited time to make the upgrade. However, with yearly releases like Madden, you’ll be able to get the Xbox Series X version for free as long as you buy it before the next year’s game releases.
Despite that, the company is said to be leaving the door open to other mechanisms of allowing upgrades. Aside from free digital upgrades like the ones above, it hasn’t ruled out schemes like selling a next-gen version at a discount, or selling “cross-gen bundles” that include two versions of the game. We’ve already seen that in action this week with the announcement of NBA 2K21’s Kobe Bryant edition, which will sell both versions for $100. The regular edition on both platforms will cost $60 on current-gen and $70 on next-gen–which may become the new normal.
The move makes sense. Microsoft is making Smart Delivery a major part of its approach to the new generation, even promising not to publish any next-gen exclusives for the beginning of the new lifecycle. The company appears to be aiming to make this a smooth transition, with less hard-and-fast distinctions between its consoles. If publishers were able to charge for upgrades, many might choose to do just that, undercutting part of Microsoft’s messaging.
It’s a large departure from past generations, which typically didn’t offer any sort of discount when buying for the next generation. This was even true at the very beginning of the generation when many of the games featured on the two generations’ systems were almost identical.
So far only about a dozen games have been announced for Smart Delivery, including all first-party games like Halo Infinite along with some notable third-party games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077.
Sony has not committed to a similar policy for its next-gen PlayStation 5. It has already said that, unlike Microsoft, it will publish next-gen exclusives right from the start.
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