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Companies charging for next-generation upgrades

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ToddHoward2010sm (cropped).jpg All of this just works.
― Todd Howard
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The following reason has been specified: Title may require a rename as the examples is more for the standardized prices ($70) and not just the paid upgrades.


Are you serious? You already have microtransactions, loot boxes, advertisements and the game being sold. What do you want now? Screw you, Zelnick!

With the 9th generation of consoles looming on the horizon, many companies have started to offer next generation upgrades between the 8th gen (Xbox One and PlayStation 4) and 9th gen (Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5).

The idea of next gen upgrades is currently being spear-headed by the Smart Delivery program from the Xbox Series X, in which supported games will get a free upgrade from the One version to the Series X version of the game. The Smart Delivery program is made to ensure that gamers never have to buy the same game twice. The Smart Delivery program was praised by gamers and critics alike, and soon many companies have put their games on the Smart Delivery program, and even started offering their own next gen upgrades for free on the PS5.

However, as with every pro-consumer move in the industry, there are a few greedy companies that have decided to lock next-gen upgrades behind a pricewall and a standardized prices (as $70), thanks to an atrocious idea coined by Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick.

Companies that have paywalled next-generation upgrades and standardized prices

  1. To nobody's surprise, Take-Two Interactive's CEO Strauss Zelnick coined the infamous idea for standardizing $70 game prices. (as part of the downfall of AAA gaming):
  2. And once again, to the surprise of no one, Electronic Arts has refused to support Smart Delivery, and later revealed their own version of the program with Madden NFL 21 called Dual Entitlement: gamers had to purchase Madden NFL 21 within a specific time frame, and then they had to submit a request to EA within another time frame to claim their free next gen upgrade. If players missed either one of these time frames, they had to purchase the game a second time. After backlash, EA eased the purchase and next gen upgrade time frames to Madden NFL 21s entire lifespan.
  3. Control, an action-adventure game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by 505 Games, is a video game that has gotten praise from gamers and critics alike, won several awards and overall had a lot of good PR surrounding it. However, all that ended when it was announced that a new version of the game - Control: Ultimate Edition, which had next gen upgrades locked behind it. Obviously, players who purchased the base version of the game as well as the season pass and DLC were very pissed; it didn't help that the PS4 exclusive DLC wasn't even listed on the Ultimate Version and that the game originally launched with some problems. On August 20, 2020, 505 Games issued a statement about how 'Every avenue we pursued, there was some form of blocker and those blockers meant that at least one group of players ended up being left out of the upgrade for various reasons...'[2] and decided that they simply couldn't offer everyone a free upgrade and decided to lock the upgrade behind the $40 Ultimate Edition. In the eyes of players, this is a failed response and only seemed to anger them as a result.
  4. Activision has shown their greedy nature with this practice:
    • Between Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War to Vanguard (Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time is free to upgrade for PS4 and XBO players in a rare instance)[3][4], they managed to make a very confusing and stupid next-gen upgrade program:[5]
      • If players purchase the Digital Standard Edition for current-gen consoles, there would be an option in the digital storefronts to upgrade the game to next-gen (with a lot of people assuming there would be a $10 fee for upgrading).
      • If players purchase the Physical Standard Edition for current-gen, there will be an option to upgrade the disc from PS4 to PS5 via an option in the PlayStation Store; however, there is no such option for XBO to XSX.
      • If players purchase the Physical Standard Edition for next-gen, the PS5 version of the game will only contain the PS5 version; however, the XSX version will contain both the XSX and XBO version (the front cover mentions "Xbox Series X and Xbox One Games included" on Black Ops Cold War and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2, "Cross-Gen Edition" on Vanguard).
        • When it said "Xbox One Game Playable on the Series X" text on the bottom left, on the back cover fine print, the disc art mention and an obvious huge Xbox One only logo and text,[6] then the Series X version is not eligible to download.
      • If players want to purchase a Digital Edition for next-gen, their only option is the Cross-Gen bundle for the game, and is the version of the game Activision wants to sell, presumably to try and normalize a $70 price tag on their games going forward.
        • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 method is by charging $50 as $10 extra from the regular budgeted $40 PS4 and XBO version of the game. The only upgrade is 120fps and spiral audio which feels worthless for those already played it on the backwards compatibility on both consoles.[7][8]
    • They also decided to charge $70 for the PS4, XBO and PC (not the first one; see Square Enix below) version of the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (2022) by making these versions exclusive to the special editions of the next generation versions, making it feel like a downgrade and unnecessary since there's almost no reason to get the PS4 and XBO version, if you already have the PS5 and XSX/S versions of the game.[9][10]
  5. Sony Interactive Entertainment has started to follow in EA's, 2K's and Activision's footsteps in charging for upgrades and standardized pricces:
    • PS5's first party games are priced at $70 such as Demon's Souls (2020) (a launch title),[11] Returnal, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and the upcoming The Last of Us Part I remake.
    • Notably, Ghost of Tsushima and Horizon Forbidden West have fallen into this and warned players that all of their future upgrades will cost $10.
      • While Ghost of Tsushima is straightforward with its upgrade model, it is still seen as Sony being greedy and caused some backlash. PS4 players would have to purchase the Director's Cut upgrade (which is $20), then they would have to pay $10 to upgrade from the PS4 version to the PS5. Players could also pay $30 to upgrade their PS4 version of the base game to the Director's Cut on PS5. This means that early PS4 players would have to spend a total upwards of $90 to get their game on PS5, while new/PS5 players would only have to spend $70 to get it on PS5.[12]
      • Horizon Forbidden West's upgrade program was originally revealed to be locked behind the more expensive versions of the game. After backlash however, Sony did retract that statement and made the upgrade free to all players:
        • The physical versions of the game (the Standard and Special Edition), would (at first) not offer any kind of upgrade at all.
        • Only the $80 Digital Deluxe Edition, the $200 Collector's Edition and the $260 Regalla Edition (with the last two having a digital code for the game, despite giving players a steelbook) were the only ones allowing for an upgrade between PS4 and PS5.
      • Conflicts for MLB The Show:
        • 21 Jackie Robinson Edition as the PlayStation versions only has the PS4 disc with a digital code of the PS5 version of the game. (Digital Edition is not eligible) Only the Xbox Series X/Xbox One disc allows to download the Series X version of the game.[13]
        • 22 only allows a $10 upgrade for the digital versions of the existing PS4 or XBO to the PS5 or XSX/S versions of the game. Due to the nature of the sports games as the prices get cheaper (even after support for the next entries), they are not eligible for the physical versions of the game.[14]
  6. Square Enix are the first company with their PC games Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade and Forspoken priced as that.
  7. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is another publisher charging PS5 and XSX/S versions $70 each for the upcoming Hogwarts Legacy and Gotham Knights games.
  8. Third Parties participating with Smart Delivery are no longer trusted with Ubisoft games, starting with Skull and Bones as $70.[15][16]
  9. Sega with Judgment remastered. While budgeted ($40) and includes all the DLCs from the PS4 version, this is still acted as a separate game instead of neither free nor paid ($10) upgrade to the PS4 owners.[17]
  10. Two from Embracer Group:
    • THQ Nordic's Wreckfest while it does have noticeable enhancements to the PS4/XBO versions of the game are forced into $10 paid upgrade.[19]
    • Likely due to the failure of Saints Row (2022) and the development hell, Deep Silver has their first forced cross-gen $70 game Dead Island 2 on the list.[20]
  11. Krafton's The Callisto Protocol release made it more confusing to both respective platform families:

References

  1. Everything is Game: Damian Lillard, Zion Williamson and Kobe Bryant are the Cover Athletes for NBA 2K21
  2. Control publisher tries, fails to explain why next-gen upgrade is limited to Ultimate Edition
  3. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Upgrade and Purchase FAQ
  4. The first running copies does not have Smart Delivery while reprint has it, in addition to "Xbox Series X + Xbox One Games Included".
  5. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Editions FAQ
  6. MLB The Show 22 unboxing video via POPnGAMES on YouTube. Take-Two later used this method in WWE 2K22, Tina Tina's Wonderlands (regular edition; the Next Level Edition contains both versions on one disc), The Quarry and NBA 2K23
  7. Xbox Store listing of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2
  8. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Upgrade and Purchase FAQ
  9. Xbox Store listing of Modern Warfare II (2022)
  10. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Editions FAQ
  11. PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan: £70 is fair price for PS5 games and launch line-up is console's best ever
  12. Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut arrives on PS5 and PS4 consoles on August 20: Pre-orders and upgrades: Pre-orders and upgrades section
  13. MLB The Show 21 - FAQ: SKU/Upgrade Paths section - Do the Jackie Robinson Editions for Xbox come with a voucher code for dual entitlement?
  14. MLB The Show 22 - FAQ: SKU & Upgrade Paths section
  15. Skull and Bones PS5 and XSX physical listing. Same with PlayStation and Xbox digital stores.
  16. Ubisoft says $70 price tag will now be the norm for its ‘big AAA games’
  17. Judgment Remastered Regular Price
  18. FAQ #43
  19. Wreckfest native PS5 and Xbox Series X
  20. Dead Island 2 Xbox Store listing

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