I'm buying a PS5 some day, but I already know I'm going to be envious of Xbox Series X owners. That's because Microsoft is going beyond cross-console compatibility with something called Smart Delivery — and no it's not a Death Stranding gimmick.
Smart Delivery is a lot like the PC/Xbox One cross-platform compatibility seen today. Xbox exec Phil Spencer (opens in new tab) announced the feature in a blog post, saying it "empowers you to buy a game once and know that – whether you are playing it on Xbox One or Xbox Series X – you are getting the right version of that game on whatever Xbox you’re playing on."
This feature will be enabled for all Xbox Game Studios titles, including Halo: Infinite, which is set to launch this fall alongside the Xbox Series X.
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But it won't stop with Microsoft games. CD Projekt Red announced that the highly-awaited Cyberpunk 2077 will be one of the first major third-party titles to feature Smart Delivery:
Gamers should never be forced to purchase the same game twice or pay for upgrades. Owners of #Cyberpunk2077 for Xbox One will receive the Xbox Series X upgrade for free when available. https://t.co/nfkfFLj85wFebruary 24, 2020
Spencer even said it in briefer language, noting that Smart Delivery "[ensures] you only have to purchase a title once in order to play the best available version for whichever Xbox console they choose to play on." While Xbox is working to ensure its exclusive Xbox Game Studios games get Smart Delivery, it'll be up to third-party developers to take it from here.
Meanwhile, PlayStation 5 owners like myself will be spinning our wheels, wondering if it's worth it to buy Skyrim for yet another console. Maybe this kind of compatibility and future-proofing will be enough to get me to consider switching teams. Sony has noted in the past that the PS5 will be backward compatible with PS4 titles, but has yet to specify whether PS4 games will be automatically upgraded to their PS5 versions.
Smart Delivery can be seen as an initiative to convince people to keep buying current-gen games instead of waiting for the Series X console. And if you don't want to wait for the next generation to start, both the Xbox One S and Xbox One X are on sale frequently.