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How will “enhanced edition patches” affect cross platform titles going forward?

Gamingtodaynews1f - How will "enhanced edition patches" affect cross platform titles going forward?

This is a discussion that continues to pop up, especially because we're in a circumstance that we haven't really ever seen before. Prior to this generation, a cross-gen game was two separate versions of the game. One designed around last-gen hardware, and one designed around the current-gen hardware. But this line was blurred this generation with the half-generation upgrade machines. We now have the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, which are capable of running the same games at higher settings, framerates, or resolutions, and these patches were provided for free.

The line blurs further still with PS5/Series X both not only supporting backwards compatibility, but with each console supposedly offering some sort of support for running PS4/Xbox One games at higher visual fidelity. Both Sony and Microsoft have been very tight lipped on how exactly that will work, but if I recall Sony said that it would only apply to select games (meaning that most games would be supported with back compat, but only select titles would receive "enhancement patches" when played on a PS5).

As next gen support continues to be announced, we've seen the following strategies being taken:

  • Offer next gen version for free if you own the base version of the game (Basically what Smart Delivery does)

  • The current gen and next gen versions are two separate products, and if you want both then you have to purchase both

  • If the game is bought digitally, you can buy a bundle that includes both current and next gen versions


Now, I've seen various comments that argue that next gen versions of games should be free if you own the current gen version because it can just be applied through a patch, but I don't think that's true. CDPR has said that Cyberpunk 2077 will support some sort of next gen "enhancement" at launch, but that a proper next gen port will be available at some point in the future. This leads me to believe that a PS4 copy played on a PS5 could only be enhanced to a certain extent, but that a PS5 port of the game (where the game is actually ported to run on PS5 hardware instead of running the PS4 version of the code through back compat) would remove those limitations.

All this just has me wonder how the future will be affected. We already know that there will be companies who won't give you any sort of free upgrade, which is a shame but I understand (They are a business after all. I can't really fault them for not wanting to give a product away for free, even though it's incredibly consumer friendly). But for games that are cross-gen, will we see proper current-gen/next-gen versions? Or will we only see current-gen versions that receive a free patch to run better on next-gen hardware? It's a really interesting time and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

On a semi-related note, if you buy the $90 edition of CoD: Cold War, you get both cross-gen versions of the game plus whatever other in-game stuff comes with it. But the funny thing is that on PC it's the same price. Why is it the same price if PC isn't getting access to a cross-gen version? Obviously the answer is money, but I still thought it was funny

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