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Sony is forcing gamers to pay for PS5 exclusive upgrades — and I’m okay with it

Horizon Forbidden West
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony announced pre-order details for Horizon Forbidden West last week and caused an immediate backlash when it was revealed that purchasing the standard PS4 version of the game wouldn’t entitle owners to a free upgrade to the PS5 edition. This decision was hastily reversed over the weekend. 

The PlayStation blog post detailing the pre-order information has now been updated with the welcome news that “players who purchase Horizon Forbidden West on PlayStation 4 will be able to upgrade to the PlayStation 5 version for free.” However, the statement also contained some news that has been less warmly received. 

PlayStation top brass Jim Ryan confirmed that future “PlayStation first-party exclusive cross-gen titles (newly releasing on PS4 & PS5) – both digital and physical – will offer a $10 digital upgrade option from PS4 to PS5.” This fee will apply to both the next God of War game and Gran Turismo 7, which are both currently slated for a 2022 release date. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the internet has not taken this news very well. When compared to the Xbox Series X and its Smart Delivery system, which essentially gives players next-gen upgrades at no additional cost, Sony’s decision to charge an upgrade fee for all exclusives after Horizon Forbidden West has been labeled by some as greedy and anti-consumer. 

However, from where I’m standing it’s another case of the internet making a big stink about something fairly reasonable. I'm okay with a $10 PS5 upgrade fee for future console exclusives. Before you jump to furiously comment just how wrong I am, allow me to explain my reasoning.

Paying more for a premium product 

I have no problem paying a little bit more to get a game with a a better framerate, faster loading times and proper PS5 DualSense features.

Let’s just get the obvious out of the way first. Of course, in an ideal world, my preference would be that Sony continues to offer free upgrades.  

I’m pleased that anyone who buys Horizon Forbidden West on PS4 will be able to upgrade to the PS5 version for no additional cost. Especially because PS4 games still retail for $60 whereas PS5 games cost $70, so buying the last-gen version of Forbidden West will actually be a smart way of getting the next-gen edition for less. 

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut review

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

However, I don’t think a $10 upgrade fee is particularly egregious. Last month Sony released Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut which sports a paid PS5 upgrade for PS4 owners, and I argued that a $10 upgrade fee was a fair price and people needed to stop complaining about it. That’s an opinion I stand by. 

If the next God of War or Gran Turismo 7 offer a significantly enhanced experience on PS5 compared to on PS4, then I don’t see why paying a relatively small amount of money for that is unfair. Paying extra for the premium version of a product can be seen in everything from smartphones to streaming services. 

Perhaps my willingness to tolerate PS5 upgrade fees come from the fact I’m an obsessive Blu-ray collector. With physical movies, the least premium format, DVD, is always cheaper than the premium ones such as Blu-ray or 4K UHD — the latter can often cost three times more than a regular DVD.  

I have no problem paying an extra $10-15 for a film on Blu-ray as opposed to buying it on DVD. In that situation, I’m paying extra to get the film in higher quality with maybe a couple of extra special features thrown in. To me, that’s comparable to paying a little bit more to get a game with a better framerate, faster loading times, and proper DualSense features.

I can understand why people want free upgrades, especially as gamers have become used to Sony offering them thanks to titles like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure including PS5 upgrades at no additional cost. However, if you want the best version of a product sometimes you have to pony up a little extra. 

When the next God of War finally releases in 2022 (fingers crossed for no delay) I’ll have no problem paying that extra $10 if it means a better overall playing experience. 

Rory is a staff writer at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics including tech news, deals, gaming, streaming and more. When he’s not writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found watching a borderline unhealthy amount of movies and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.