Xbox reportedly recommends that developers make next-gen upgrades for free

Companies that don’t integrate the Smart Delivery System will be “treated separately within the Xbox ecosystem.”

Image via Xbox

Microsoft has been encouraging “companies working on cross-gen games” to offer upgrades for free, according to a VGC report based on “publishing sources with knowledge of Microsoft’s next-gen policies.” 

“It will be up to individual developers to determine whether they implement Smart Delivery,” a Microsoft spokesperson said. “They can choose to use it for titles that will release on Xbox One first and come to Xbox Series X later.”

Developers have other options if they don’t use the Smart Delivery policy since Microsoft hasn’t made free next-gen upgrades mandatory. They can sell “cross-gen bundles” for Xbox One and Xbox Series X games, for example. NBA 2K21 will be available through a cross-gen bundle option priced at $99.99, but the Xbox Series X and PS5 editions will be sold for $69.99.

Third-party games, like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077, will offer next-gen upgrades with no additional cost. Microsoft will probably attempt to stop other publishers and developers from charging full price for next-gen versions of cross-gen games or suggest an upgrade be provided as a paid DLC option.

Cross-gen games that don’t support Smart Delivery will be “treated separately within the Xbox ecosystem,” according to VGC. This means that some Xbox Live elements, such as multiplayer, won’t have a unifying system between the two console versions. NBA 2K21 and FIFA 21, for example, won’t share certain save data across generations.

EA, on the other hand, is offering games through a different Dual Entitlement scheme that guarantees players who buy FIFA 21 or Madden NFL 21 on current-gen consoles will also be able to play the upgraded versions on Xbox Series X and PS5 for free.