Sony Horizon Forbidden West PS5 upgrade strategy directly sucks

As is often the case with bad news, amid all the exciting Tremortusk statues and Aloy’s outfits included in the many special editions of Horizon Forbidden West, there was a frustrating and buried detail about the sequel’s upcoming release. Purchasing the PS4 version of the next Horizon will not guarantee players a PS5 version if they purchase the standard and special editions, nor is there a way to pay a nominal fee to upgrade to the PS5 edition. You have to fork out $ 80 to buy the “Deluxe Edition”, which bundles the PS4 and PS5 editions, or buy the full price PS5 version even though you already own the game on PS4.

It’s a frustrating decision that puts the onus on non-PS5 players to have the anticipation of how they will play Forbidden West in, say, a year, or pay double the price to have it on both generations of consoles in the future. line. It’s doubly frustrating, and ultimately feels greedy, if you look aside at the PlayStation console competition, Xbox. The concept of “Dual Ownership” is in stark contrast to Xbox’s current philosophy of “Smart Delivery”, which essentially means that you only need to purchase a version of your own game to be able to play it on any of your consoles that support that.

And it’s triply frustrating when even third-party companies have offered free, albeit clunky, upgrade paths on PS5. It’s an unforced error, and a decision that PlayStation should absolutely reverse: as a console maker, you have a responsibility to make your console as welcoming as possible to gamers, rather than leaving them feeling like they’re spending money unnecessarily to share on. PlayStation. ecosystem.

Horizon Forbidden West game state screenshots

The Horizon cross-generation issue is not the first decision like this made by PlayStation superiors (note that these decisions are not made by individual developers). Both Ghost of Tsushima and Death Stranding Director’s Cuts come with a $ 9.99 fee for PS4 players to upgrade to the PS5 versions of these games. But it’s the first PlayStation game to have a $ 60- $ 70 asterisk attached to it if you want to have it across generations.

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At the PS5 launch, it felt like Sony embraced those who wanted to level up a generation a little more: Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure offered cross-generation updates at no additional cost. But even this was not a perfect solution; PlayStation’s PS4-PS5 migration philosophy lacks the ace in the hole that is Xbox Smart Delivery. Transitions to the next generation on the PS5 have been clunky ever since, whether it required complicated multi-step processes to transfer saves (Final Fantasy 7 Remake), the total loss of saves on upgrade (Yakuza: Like to Dragon and Maneater) or a lack of transparency about the version of the game you’re playing (although, thankfully, an update to the PS5 UI currently in beta helps alleviate that latter issue).

The Xbox of everything

It’s a series of issues that make buying a game on PlayStation more annoying than it should be, particularly compared to its direct console competitor. The last few years have made it very clear that, more than ever, PlayStation and Xbox are taking different approaches to this latest generation of consoles. And that’s completely fine – allowing both companies to experiment with different ideas, and hopefully succeed with them, only increases competition, which generally only increases quality as the companies try to outdo each other. But PlayStation seems uninterested in competing with Xbox on the cross-generation front, to an almost baffling degree.

Xbox’s smart delivery infrastructure means that gamers can generally expect their progress in an Xbox One game to carry over to the Xbox series version without paying an upgrade fee or having to transfer saves in an awkward way.

Yes, not all companies opt for Smart Delivery with all games and ultimately the Xbox series and PS5 will be the dominant proprietary consoles to the extent that next-gen gamers may not be such a high priority. But while the vast majority of console owners still use machines from the Xbox One and PS4 era, many of them out of necessity due to global supply constraints, Smart Delivery is a wonderful service that doesn’t stop a gamer from enjoying the games. games you buy. due to factors beyond your control such as chip shortages and resellers. In addition to the cost benefits of subscribing to Game Pass, it’s wonderful to have the assurance that if you’re still playing on Xbox One and buying a new game, chances are you can expect the Xbox series version to be available when you can. buy a next-gen console.

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What makes the comparison between the PlayStation and Xbox philosophies even weirder is that PlayStation had all of this figured out a generation ago. Cross-Buy was a mainstay of the transition from PS3 to PS4, and even included the availability of cross-buy in some cases with PlayStation Vita. PlayStation had a method in place to allow for a hassle-free upgrade model that didn’t cost players extra money. Why this time this type of thinking has been abandoned in favor of the consumer?

Putting pressure on the players

PlayStation can and should lead by example on how to offer its players the best possible experience, especially when deciding which version of the game is heavily influenced by the high availability of these new consoles. But encourage players to buy more expensive versions of the game at anticipation finally having a PS5 sets a disturbing precedent. If PlayStation agrees to charge extra for players to buy two versions of the same game (yes, of course, with DualSense and the technical fidelity differences that will be present on PS5 and not on PS4), why should other companies be afraid to do so. the same? same? After all, 2K and EA have already gained cross-generation access to NBA 2K and Battlefield 2042 behind the deluxe editions, respectively. (It’s also worth mentioning that those examples won’t support Smart Delivery on Xbox either.)

Sadly, sales are, at the end of the day, a big factor in all of this. No corporation, regardless of the incredible art it facilitates, is altruistic. A company like PlayStation, especially as part of the larger Sony corporation, is committed to achieving financial goals, pleasing shareholders, and making money from the artistic endeavors it creates. The separation of the two different console versions makes a more specific monetary sense when you consider that PlayStation is trying to solidify a $ 70 price tag for next-gen games; offering a Horizon Forbidden West bundle between generations at $ 60 or $ 70 would muddy that approach. That’s why a decision like this isn’t surprising, but it’s daunting, when trends outside of PlayStation show a better way, a way that doesn’t ask players to pay more for the same game when that decision is driven by global factors. . single player can control.

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Ultimately, there are more than 10 times the number of PS4 owners as there are PS5 owners, and the constant availability of the newest system certainly means that gamers, when they can find them, want the newest hardware. But that’s not a choice that everyone can easily make as they face limited availability and financial difficulties due to the continuing global pandemic. Horizon Forbidden West is likely to sell very well on both PS4 and PS5, but for the much broader base of just PS4 owners, they have a bad decision to make.

The irony of Jim Ryan’s statement that PlayStation believes in generations has been pointed out many times so far. But it’s frustrating when the only tenet of that watery belief today is forcing players to make a financial decision to decide which generation to play in. That’s a choice they shouldn’t have to make, and hopefully a PlayStation can reverse course before Horizon Forbidden West and other cross-generation games like the upcoming God of War and Gran Turismo 7 are released.

Jonathon Dornbush is IGN Senior Feature Editor, PlayStation Leader, and Host of Podcast Beyond! He is the proud dog father of a BOY named Loki. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.