A new report says Xbox has made it clear to publishers what they expect in terms of cross-platform upgrades, suggesting more Smart Delivery and similar programs be utilized.
According to VGC, a common sharer of insider information, Microsoft has pressured third-party partners to emphasize next gen upgrades at no additional cost, either by using its Smart Delivery system or by offering something similar of their own creation, like EA's Dual Entitlement program.
Many third-party partners have already announced plans to use Smart Delivery, like Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Valhalla and CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077. This means players can buy the game once and have everything from save data to achievements to move to other versions within the same ecosystem at no additional cost, with no other strings attached. But that's not the case everywhere. At EA, Dual Entitlement means players can upgrade to the next gen version of a game like Madden NFL 21 for no additional cost, but only if they do so before a certain date, in this case being March 2021.
Take-Two, meanwhile, has taken a different approach by selling its cross-generational versions of NBA 2K21 as a bundle for $100. That equates to roughly a buy one, get one half off deal, though the next gen version of NBA 2K21 will also be selling at an increased price of $70.
A statement to VGC from Microsoft confirms what has been made public by these various moves so far., saying “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.”
VGC was also told that games not offering Smart Delivery at launch will not be able to opt into the program later, given the way Smart Delivery-based games operate behind the scenes. It's clear Microsoft wants to be seen as the more consumer-friendly platform in the next gen after Don Mattrick's failed vision set them off on the wrong foot at the beginning of the Xbox One lifespan.