(Pocket-lint) - It's not often a bit of news gets us to immediately go off and either pre-order a game or, more worryingly, cancel one.
But that's exactly what we've just done after learning that CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077 will be part of Xbox's new Smart Delivery system.
Basically, if you buy it for Xbox One on 17 September you will get the Xbox Series X version completely free.
So, if like us you have access to both a PS4 and Xbox One (a big if, for many people, admittedly) why would you now pre-order it for the PlayStation, knowing that the Xbox version involves a free upgrade later?
Smart Delivery, which Microsoft had only unveiled an hour or two before Cyberpunk's confirmation, effectively ensures that when you buy an Xbox One title also slated for the next-gen Xbox Series X, you don't have to make a second purchase to play the upgraded version of the game.
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/nfkfFLj85w— Cyberpunk 2077 (@CyberpunkGame) February 24, 2020
It's the sort of eminently sensible, pro-consumer offering that Microsoft has clearly spent recent years trying to demonstrate that it can deliver. And it stands in marked contrast to the pre-history of its farcical bungling of the sharing mechanism it initially had planned for the Xbox One.
CD Projekt Red has a history when it comes to bucking industry trends in favour of measures that its customers will actually appreciate, whether that means the lack of DRM software attached to its games, or the absence of microtransactions in its business model. It's no surprise at all then that it's made Cyberpunk 2077 the first third-party AAA game confirmed for Smart Delivery.
Now that it has, it also shouldn't come as a surprise when more consumers do what we've just done - gone onto Amazon to cancel our Playstation 4 pre-order of Cyberpunk 2077, replacing it with the Xbox One version. There was no particular reason we'd picked the PS4 over the Xbox for the pre-order originally, but Microsoft has magicked a difference-maker out of thin air with Smart Delivery.
If, as you'd hope, this is just the first of many games to be confirmed for the upgraded ownership system, expect it to make a difference. Microsoft's already got the burgeoning reputation of its Game Pass library to encourage people to jump ship from Sony, but the promise of cross-generational game purchases is an equally compelling bit of value.
That gaming is getting more and more expensive is the sort of sentiment chucked around all over the place in discussions now, but not enough publishers are actually acting on that impression.
In fact, to pick an example at random, Bethesda's willingness to port and re-release Skyrim down the years was so widely lampooned that it even took the mick out of itself with its mini-port of the game for Amazon's Alexa. It was a charming enough ad, but the crux of the joke relied on gamers being made to buy the same game repeatedly to ensure they're playing the ultimate version of it available.
Xbox is offering a way to counteract that annoyance, which is credit to its willingness to at least try to shake up the market. The ball is now firmly in PlayStation's court, too. It might be able to score easy points when it reveals the PS5's power levels, pricing and more, but if it doesn't have a credible plan to counter the likes of Game Pass and Smart Delivery, it might find itself on the wrong side of the next console war.
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