Microsoft Reportedly Against Publishers Charging For Xbox Series X Upgrades
Microsoft’s most heavily-promoted Xbox Series X features is “Smart Delivery,” which grants Xbox One users next-gen versions of select games at no additional cost. While not mandatory for developers to support, Microsoft is reportedly pushing more teams to either use it or offer their own free alternatives. Microsoft has reportedly been telling developers and publishers they are not allowed to charge players who wish to upgrade from the Xbox One version of their games to Xbox Series X.
However, developers and publishers who choose not to support Smart Delivery can still offer owners of current-gen games a discount on purchasing a second next-gen version of the game on the Microsoft Store. Theoretically, third-party publishers could also charge for physical game upgrades via their own schemes, such as via retailer promotions.
If a developer does decide to skip Smart Delivery for one reason or another, it needs to have a different but functionally similar system in place to issue no-cost next-gen game upgrades to users.
EA is doing just that with its “Dual Entitlement” program, which lets you snag a copy of, say, Madden NFL 21 on current-gen consoles and receive a free next-gen version up until the launch of the next game in the series, Madden NFL 22. It’s not quite as sweet a deal as Smart Delivery, but it’s close enough for Microsoft, it would seem.
Of course, while this might not come at a cost to consumers, it isn’t free for developers and publishers. 2K Games has received some blowback from fans for charging extra for the next-gen versions of NBA 2K21. While fans are clearly upset at the idea of paying extra for a next-gen upgrade, the reality is that those costs have to come from somewhere, and the cost of video game development has only increased over the last few years. NBA 2K21 will not support Smart Delivery, but the company will offer bundles that feature both versions of the game.
It’s unclear what sort of consequences (if any) publishers will face for refusing to abide by Microsoft’s preferences regarding next-gen upgrades, but perhaps we’ll find out in the future.
A Microsoft spokesperson told the site that “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.”
Time will tell whether or not these upgrades will prove to be worth it for publishers and video game companies. However, if upgrades allow publishers to sell the same software to owners of various platforms, those extra development costs could actually pay off in the long run.