Microsoft cranks pressure on game devs with Xbox Series X success at stake

Microsoft has already spoken a fair amount about Xbox Smart Delivery, which is a new feature that will essentially offer free upgrades for cross-generation games. Halo Infinite, for instance, will be a Smart Delivery title, which means that when players purchase it on Xbox One, they'll also get the Xbox Series X version for free if they one day upgrade consoles. Microsoft has already said that all first-party games launching on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X will be Smart Delivery titles, leaving third-party developers the option to use Smart Delivery as well.

So far, there have been a few developers who have announced Smart Delivery games, such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Apparently, Microsoft has gone further than simply leaving the option open for third-party devs, as a new report says it's actively discouraging those developers from charging full price for next-gen game upgrades.

That's according to Video Games Chronicle, which spoke to "publishing sources with knowledge of Microsoft's next-gen policies." Those sources claim that Microsoft has been encouraging developers to offer next-gen upgrades at no charge, whether that's through Smart Delivery or some upgrade scheme of their own.

Additionally, it seems that Microsoft has told those developers that they can't sell upgrades to next-gen games as DLC. Microsoft is apparently okay with developers offering cross-generation games in a bundle together, and that's precisely what 2K Games is doing with the NBA 2K21 Mamba Forever Edition, which bundles together the current-gen and next-generation version of NBA 2K21 for $99.99.

So, while you're still paying a premium for that cross-generation bundle, you're paying far less than you would by purchasing the current-gen and next-gen versions separately, as they clock in at $59.99 and $69.99, respectively. We'll see what other cross-gen upgrade schemes developers and publishers come up with, but for now, it seems that Xbox Smart Delivery is the most desirable one.