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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War has bad news for PS5 and Xbox Series X players

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War
(Image credit: Activision)

Bad news for prospective PS5 and Xbox Series X owners: Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War won’t get a free upgrade from the current consoles to the next-generation gaming machines. 

But you’ll be able to pay for a “cross-gen” bundle for an extra $10, which will then let you play the game on the new consoles when they arrive in November. The cross-gen bundle costs $69.99 on both the PlayStation Store and the Microsoft Store; standard console editions cost $59.99. 

If you opt to get a cross-gen bundle, you’ll get an upgrade to the PS5 and Xbox Series X version of the game without needing to buy it again. In a FAQ, Activision explains that the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game will work on the next-gen consoles, but won't include any new next-gen features such as ray tracing or graphical upgrades. 

You'll be able to upgrade your PS4 copy of Cold War to the PS5 version via the PlayStation Store, presumably for a $10 fee. Note that if you upgrade your physical copy of the game, you'll need to still use your PS4 disc to play on PS5 (something to keep in mind if you were thinking of buying the discless PS5 Digital Edition). 

Meanwhile, Activision notes that the physical Xbox Series X version of Cold War will be playable on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X, so that seems like the best bet for Xbox players. The physical next-gen versions of Cold War will cost $70, which is the same price as the digital cross-gen bundles for both PlayStation and Xbox.

Next-gen fragmentation 

It’s nothing new in the console world for publishers to try to sell gamers an upgraded version of a game they already own once next-gen consoles hit. But PS5 and Xbox Series X aim to shake that status quo up a bit with comprehensive backwards compatibility that offers visual upgrades, and in some cases free upgrades for games crossing one generation to another. 

But Activision’s move with Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War pretty much flies in the face of Microsoft’s Smart Delivery initiative, where all games bought on an Xbox One will automatically include a free upgrade for those who jump to the Xbox Series X. Sony doesn't have this strategy, though games such as Marvel's Avengers and Madden NFL 21 are offering free PS5 upgrades on a title-by-title basis.

Cyberpunk 2077 on PS5 and Xbox Series X will be offered as a free upgrade by CD Projekt Red to anyone who bought the game on the respective current-generation consoles. And the same will be true of new Destiny 2 content.  

You can pre-order Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War now, which will give you early access to the open beta and access to the “Confrontation” weapons pack as well as Operator Frank Woods and an assault rifle Weapon Blueprint for immediate use in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Warzone. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War will be available on November 13.