Microsoft’s Cross-Gen Policy Gets A Buff

By Ben Hamill - May 04 2020
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Microsoft’s Cross-Gen Policy Gets A Buff

The cross-generation games conundrum is a particularly sharp thorn in the side of many a developer. Re-creating a game originally created for a current-generation console, so as to make that game compatible with a last-generation console, is tricky and sometimes treacherous going. Microsoft’s recent announcement that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will support its soon-to-be-launched Smart Delivery program, which will support cross-generation migrations between the Xbox Series X and the Xbox One, with migration supported in both directions, is a welcome indication that Microsoft has a firm handle on its own cross-generation policies.

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What cross-generation gaming effectively means, and with specific reference to Microsoft’s own Smart Delivery program, is that players will only need to invest in a game part of the Smart Delivery program once. This completely eradicates the (senseless) need to pay for two separate copies of the same game for the sole purpose of playing it on consoles hailing from two separate generations, or eras.

Ubisoft May Lead The Way

Valhalla is of course not the first game to have gotten the Smart Delivery treatment. Aside from Microsoft’s pledge regarding the across-the-board implementation of the program to its own Xbox Game Studios, two other third-party developers have jumped on board. Ubisoft (Valhalla) joins CD Projekt Red has confirmed that its own upcoming Cyperpunk 2077 will be given the free-upgrade treatment too.

Ubisoft’s decision to join the party is very encouraging indeed. The hope is obviously that a developer of Ubisoft’s size supporting the Smart Delivery concept will inspire others to follow. The thing about Smart Delivery is that its 100% optional. Developers are encouraged to make upgrades available to players for free, but they are under no obligation to do so. The decision to charge for 2 generational versions of the same game would be completely justified since this often requires a great deal of time and effort to be invested in the re-development of a single title – almost as if two separate titles were in the offing. 

Silence From Sony

As things stand at the moment, Microsoft leads the way. Sony has not made any announcement either way relating to whether or not the company will be offering free cross-generation upgrades between its PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 consoles and games.

If Sony were to opt in on keeping games like Valhalla and Cyberpunk separate, this will in effect cause players to have to choose between the “lesser of two evils”. One option would be to pay for a game that is bound to be visually worse-off but future-compatible and the other to fork out money for a version of that same game that may not turn out to be all those many anticipated miles better once released in any way.

Microsoft certainly deserves a pat on the back this time round for making available to its players the best possible experience of a game based on which console they own, instead of whether or not they’re able or willing to fork out the money for two versions of the same exact title.

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