Lord help me, I’m writing a console wars article. The narrative is unavoidably going to be Xbox Series X vs the PlayStation 5 as we head towards the end of the year, so we may as well talk about that. I’m personally platform-agnostic, and will happily build my collection with multiple platforms as is feasible. Naturally what that means is this crap is expensive, and with consoles releasing during yet another economic recession, this crap will continue being expensive. That worry made me realize something about this upcoming console launch, and that’s the fact that Microsoft has a feature, built in, that will give the Xbox Series X a crucial advantage, at least during the launch window. That feature is Smart Delivery.
Microsoft has been talking about Smart Delivery for a long time, even before we knew a whole lot about the Xbox Series X. That’s because a feature like this needs to be pushed way ahead of launch, so folks understand how cool it is. Smart Delivery was pitched at one point as a way gamers could install parts of games as needed, an example being leaving out multiplayer if you just want the story mode. But it’s being used in a different way now, and that way is to help people ease into the new generation in a way that’s extremely wallet-friendly.
Like any other generation, this one will be including cross-generation games. Especially with third party houses like Ubisoft, with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla right around the corner. But Microsoft itself will also be releasing games that cross that bridge, as part of its ongoing strategy to disrupt the same old video game market traditions. A prime example of that is this year’s Halo Infinite, which will be playable on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X. So, what if you want to play the new Halo, but don’t have enough dosh to shell out for a new console? Here’s where Smart Delivery has your back.
You can just buy Halo Infinite once. You can pick up a copy, play it on your Xbox One, and not worry about buying it again when you’re done saving up for your next-gen console. Smart Delivery will read the game, then install the proper assets relevant to your console. That’s free of charge. Microsoft has been clear that Smart Delivery is an optional feature for developers, so not every game will use it. That’s unfortunate, but the good news is that every Xbox Game Studios title that supports multiple platforms will use Smart Delivery. There’s a big line up of exclusives on the way, and Smart Delivery will ensure nobody gets left behind.
Between Smart Delivery, Xbox Game Pass, and backwards compatibility, Microsoft will have an early, economic advantage against the PlayStation 5. People will be able to know they’ll have content ready for them when they finally upgrade, without having to pass on an exciting game or make extra financial decisions about what to pick up and when. That’s a wild prospect for a new console launch, which usually means having to grab a stack of games to go along with your fancy new box. I’m not normally a console wars guy, but I also can’t just buy two consoles at once. When it comes down to which one to aim for first, it’s hard to dismiss how appealing the Series X is looking thanks to those features.