I just want to clarify right up front, because I know I'm going to get people raging at me without reading the post – there are still companies going about this in a shit way. 505's scheme for next gen upgrades of Control is ridiculous for example, and I'm not supporting things like that. I'm just talking about in general, having to purchase a next gen copy of a game.
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).
CDPR has said that Cyberpunk 2077 will receive one of these "enhancement patches" at launch, but that a proper next gen port will be available at some point in the future. This leads me to believe that there is a difference between playing an enhanced PS4 copy and a PS5 copy. A lot of the pushback surrounding charging for next gen games seems to be stemming from the fact that a lot of people think publishers are just charging for a patch, but I don't think that's the case. Using Cyberpunk 2077 as an example, it implies that an enhanced PS4 copy can only be enhanced so much, because it's still PS4 code (even if it's being run on a PS5) – but a PS5 copy which has actually been ported to PS5 code can be enhanced further and actually take advantage of the PS5 hardware. Frankly, I don't see the problem with charging for that.
Now, what Microsoft is doing with Smart Delivery is great, and any company that wants to offer a free next-gen upgrade of their game is being incredibly pro-consumer. But I'm a bit baffled at all of the people that seem to be expecting all cross-gen games to be free for the next-gen versions. Maybe I'm just out of the loop, or maybe a lot of the comments I've seen assume it's just a new patch when it's not, who knows.
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