Sony reportedly has no plans to introduce a unified Smart Delivery-style program for the upcoming PS5.
Microsoft’s Smart Delivery feature ensures next-gen versions of current-gen games are available free of charge to owners. The feature is designed to ease the generational transition and allow Xbox owners to play participating games on all Xbox devices.
As a voluntary feature, Microsoft doesn’t impose Smart Delivery on publishers, but several big-name early adopters suggest it could prove popular.
Games with confirmed Smart Delivery support include Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077, among another dozen . Microsoft has also confirmed that all upcoming first-party Xbox Game Studios titles will support Smart Delivery.
Sony was widely expected to follow suit with a similar program, but according to a new report from Japanese outlet GameSpark this may not the case .
Gamespark got in touch with a Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan spokesperson to query Sony’s PS5 plans.
The spokesperson said that any form of cross-gen upgrade would be the discretion of publishers. SIE Japan stressed that Sony would flexibly support publishers’ respective upgrade plans, but there won’t be a unified standard.
As we’ve already seen with EA, publishers left to piece together cross-platform upgrades produce less than satisfactory results.
EA initially confirmed a free upgrade to the Xbox Series X version of Madden NFL 21 via its Dual Entitlement program with a serious caveat. Owners have to purchase the game on Xbox One by Dec. 31, 2020, and upgrade to the Series X version by Mar. 31, 2021.
Following a backlash, the publisher shifted the eligibility period up to the release of Madden NFL 22 .
While on the surface, the Xbox and Sony’s differing approaches lead to the same end result, their potential impact is vastly different. Smart Delivery actively encourages publishers to support cross-gen upgrades with an existing codified framework, while Sony’s hands-off approach passes the buck on to publishers.
With little impetus to offer a solution to gamers, there’s little to prompt publishers to put in the groundwork. At best, players will have to contend with myriad programs from individual publishers. These could have vastly different rules leading to confusion .
Sony’s response also fails to shed light on how this will impact first-party PlayStation titles that will launch on both PS4 and PS5.