Xbox Series X game upgrades should be free, Microsoft urges

Xbox Series X
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has sided with gamers when it comes to compatibility between current-gen Xbox One games and next-gen Xbox Series X versions. The company has reportedly told developers to not charge players a premium to upgrade to the Xbox Series X edition of a game.

So far, Microsoft has only recommended that developers use Smart Delivery, a technology that ensures the best version of a game will be installed on your respective console. For example, if you play Gears 5 via Game Pass on the Xbox One, then buy an Xbox Series X later this year, you'll get the optimized version of Gears 5 from the moment you set up your new console.

If Microsoft had its way, every publisher releasing games for Xbox would give people the option to upgrade for free, according to info revealed by VGC. The site said, citing publishing sources with knowledge of Xbox policy, that Xbox told devs they can't charge to upgrade current-gen games to Xbox Series X versions as DLC. Instead, they are encouraged to offer both games at no additional cost.

“At Xbox, the player is at the center of everything we do, which is why we’re committed to supporting exclusive Xbox Game Studios titles, including ’Halo Infinite,’ with Smart Delivery, providing the best available version for whichever console you choose to play on,” a Microsoft spokesperson told VGC. “It will be up to individual developers to determine whether they implement Smart Delivery, and they can choose to use it for titles that will release on Xbox One first and come to Xbox Series X later.”

Publishers have their own plans

We've compiled all the games set to use Smart Delivery when the Xbox Series X arrives. It's a pretty lengthy list, although some devs are using less consumer-friendly programs. EA, one noteworthy offender, will use Smart Delivery but only with a time limit, requiring players to buy an Xbox Series X and upgrade before a certain date.

Microsoft will support Smart Delivery on all Xbox Game Studios games (including Halo Infinite) but it isn't forcing anyone to use the service. As a result, games from third-party publishers will have their own set of rules for how you can upgrade them after purchasing a Series X. In some cases, you'll need to buy the game again either at a discount or full price (which could be $70!).

2K Games is taking another route by selling NBA 2K21, the upcoming entry in one of the most popular sports franchises, as a bundle. For $99, gamers will get both the Xbox One and Xbox Series X versions of the game.

Of course, none of this matters if you end up buying a PS5 or keeping your Xbox One for a few more years. Whether you should get the Xbox Series X could be determined later this month during the big Xbox games showcase on July 23.

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.