We’ve been re-buying games ever since the current generation released. Last generation, with the PS3 and Xbox 360, games from older generations were re-released for the new consoles. You’ve certainly seen them as PSN games and/or games from the Xbox Live Arcade. It was such a lovely way to replay those games we loved from the Xbox and PSOne eras. Then the remasters started to roll out, and in the current generation, the remasters became rampant, especially for games that were JUST released the last generation.
This was almost nothing compared to how often Nintendo tricks us into re-buying games. With the GameCube, Nintendo re-released nearly all of the past Legend of Zelda games on disc. Two generations (or one-and-a-half generations) later with the Wii U, Nintendo added these classic games to their eShop, which was already available on the DS. So here were two places to re-buy classic games. Now with the Switch, that option is available yet again with a Nintendo Online membership. The Switch has started to roll out remasters of older games, and it’s only a matter of time before remastered games on the Wii get ported to the Switch.
It’s absolutely insane, and yet we, as gamers, have no one but ourselves to blame for continuing to shell out money. I know I’m just as guilty, as I look at how many times I’ve bought Final Fantasy X and Legend of Zelda games. It’s not pretty.
With the next generation, Microsoft wants to stop this vicious cycle. Their plan is to offer free upgrades for games from the current generation to the next generation. CD Projekt RED has jumped on board with this idea, promising a free upgrade of Cyberpunk 2077 for the Xbox Series X from the Xbox One version.
Microsoft has promised a feature called “Smart Delivery” for the Xbox Series X for all of its own exclusive titles. For instance, if you buy Halo Infinite for the Xbox One, when the Xbox Series X releases, you will receive a free port upgrade for the game between consoles.
For consumers, this is absolute genius. Now there’s no need to put off buying a game now for the Xbox One in fear that it will release for the next generation right off the bat. Go on ahead and buy the game when you want, because a free “port” is ready and waiting for you. You won’t have to shell out money again.
Microsoft has cautioned that they are only guaranteeing this free feature for their exclusive titles. It’s completely up to developers and publishers to offer it for their own games. CD Projekt RED, thus far, is the only non-Xbox affiliated publisher offering a free upgrade between console generations. The pressure is certainly on for others to follow suit, but the question remains as to will they.
I have no idea how much it costs to upgrade/port games between generations, so I honestly have no idea if the cost warrants re-buying a game at full price. Maybe it does, which I could see with the first remaster of Final Fantasy X from the PS2 to PS3. But how about when it was remastered again to the PS4? Did the cost warrant full price a second time, or was this just a way to reap in more cash? Case in point, see how many times Final Fantasy VII was ported, not counting the Remake, which is a completely different beast.
No matter if it’s an easy cash grab or a way to recoup porting costs, developers and publishers stand to lose money in offering free upgrades. We all know how much game companies love to lose money.
Microsoft has thrown down the gauntlet for game companies and console companies alike. Only CDPR has answered the call. Potential money loss aside, such a pro-consumer stance from Microsoft and CDPR can only benefit them in the long run.
It’s your move, Sony and Nintendo.