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.