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The next-generation console war is nearly upon us, and both Sony and Microsoft are getting shots in early as they dance around the fact that neither wants to reveal a price first. Microsoft is hoping to lure buyers with Xbox Smart Delivery – but what is Xbox Smart Delivery, and how does it work? Read on to find out.
Smart Delivery in two paragraphs
Xbox Smart Delivery is a system that should, theoretically, mean you always have the best version of the game for the hardware you’re using.
So, if you buy a copy of Cyberpunk 2077 on Xbox One then you’ll also get a copy (probably a download version) that’s optimised for the Xbox Series X when it launches at the end of the year. And all at no extra cost.
How does Smart Delivery work?
Microsoft goes into more detail on its news site here, but the long and short of it is as described above. You buy a supported game, and Microsoft will then deliver the best possible version to the console you’re using.
Note that this almost certainly doesn’t mean that you’ll get a shiny new disc sent in the post (see more details below), but if you bought a physical copy then Smart Delivery should still work.
Nor do you have to worry about saved games: “As was the case with our current backwards compatible titles, you won’t have to worry about losing any progress either,” states Sony.
“Thanks to our commitment to compatibility across generations, you can be assured that when you purchase a game on Xbox One today, your game library, progression and entire gaming legacy moves forward with you if you jump into the next generation with Xbox Series X.”
Will all games support Xbox Smart Delivery?
Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. In theory any game can support it. Whether they will in practice is up to the publishers, and whether they think it makes economic sense to do so. “This technology is available for all developers, and all Xbox Game Studios titles that are Optimised for Xbox Series X, including Halo Infinite, will support Smart Delivery,” Microsoft explains.
The current list is relatively healthy, though, and you can go ahead and buy Xbox One versions of the following games without having to worry about forwards compatibility:
- Halo Infinite
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
- Destiny 2
- DiRT 5
- Scarlet Nexus
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
- Yakuza: Like a Dragon
- The Ascent
- Call of the Sea
- Gears 5
- Second Extinction
- Metal: Hellslinger
Will Xbox Smart Delivery cover physical copies?
Yes – or rather it can do. Again, it’s down to the publisher. “It’s not just limited to games that you purchase digitally; physical discs of Xbox games can also support Smart Delivery if the developer or publisher decides to implement it,” Microsoft says.
Whether that means that a supported game’s Xbox One disc will work in an Xbox Series X, or if it will just download a copy for you, is unclear. You’d have thought the latter would be open to abuse, but we shall see.
Will PS5 have Smart Delivery?
Nothing has been confirmed yet, and you’d think that if Sony did have a similar system in place it would be shouting about it pretty loudly. As of yet: silence.
That’s not to say that individual games won’t offer their own solutions. EA has already said it will be doing something for Madden NFL 21, letting players upgrade their copies to Xbox Series X if they do so within a certain timeframe. It would be surprising if individual titles didn’t do something similar for PS5, even if there’s no official solution directly from Sony.