PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X Next-Gen Upgrades are Poles Apart

October 13, 2020 7:02 pm

The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are game-changers for next-gen gaming. With immense graphical and computing prowess, both the consoles are set to take on the next generation of games. Amidst all the great features of these consoles, one of the most interesting ones is the next-gen upgrades.

The reason this is interesting is that it enables users to upgrade games that are playable on the current consoles for the next-gen consoles. For example, Cyberpunk 2077 will be available as a free upgrade for the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Once an optimized version is available for the next-gen consoles, users can download it at no additional cost.

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Although, the process of upgrading to the next-gen edition is very different for both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Before diving into the details, it is important to know that there are only a select few developers who have announced free next-gen upgrades. Others may or may not choose to follow suit. Consequently, some developers may even charge for next-gen upgrades.

Now that the basics are clear, let’s take a look at how the next-gen upgrade systems work differently for Xbox and PlayStation.

Xbox Series X has Smart Delivery for its next-gen upgrades

Smart Delivery is a system designed by the Microsoft team to ensure a smooth next-gen upgrade experience. This basically means that if you’re playing a game on Xbox One and switched to the Xbox Series X, Smart Delivery will automatically deliver the Series X version of the game when it is available.

The official Xbox Wire blog has elaborated on three scenarios to help players understand exactly how this works.

Different scenarios to explain how Smart Delivery works

  • If you own Gears 5 or are loving it via Xbox Game Pass now, you can play it today on Xbox One. Then, if you pick up an Xbox Series X this holiday, all it takes is a push of a button to download it and you’ll have the Optimized version of Gears 5 – available on day 1 at launch with the console – at your fingertips.


  • When Halo Infinite launches alongside Xbox Series X and Xbox One this holiday, you only have to buy the game once and you’ll get the best version for whichever console you own, or both.  If you pick up Xbox Series X for your living room, Smart Delivery will recognize that and deliver you the Optimized version there. If you decide to move your existing Xbox One to a bedroom or the office, Smart Delivery will recognize that too and deliver that version when you’re playing on Xbox One.


  • Lastly, some new and existing Xbox One titles will be Optimizing their games after the Xbox Series X launches.  For example, if you buy Cyberpunk 2077 when it launches on September 17, you’ll be set to explore Night City on Xbox One.  If you pick up Xbox Series X at launch this holiday, you can play it there too in compatibility mode picking up exactly where you left off. Then, when CD Projekt Red delivers an Xbox Series X Optimized version of Cyberpunk 2077, you’ll automatically get upgraded once it’s available at no additional cost.

The difference between optimized and compatible versions of next-gen games

One important point to note here is the difference between the optimized version of the game and games that can run in compatibility mode. Games like Cyberpunk 2077 will be playable on the Series X in compatibility mode. When a version of the game optimized for the Series X is released by CDPR, Smart Delivery will automatically recognize this and upgrade the game.

Additionally, this will also be the same for certain games with physical discs but will be announced on a case-by-case basis.

The major takeaway from this is that Smart Delivery makes life easier for players. All they have to do is run their next-gen titles on the Series X. The console will do and take care of most of the rest. It is literally a two-step process that allows users to upgrade to the next-gen versions. Although, things are a little different in the case of PlayStation 5.

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PlayStation 5 has an extensive next-gen upgrade process

While Sony cleared the air regarding the backwards compatibility on the PS5, it announced a rather extensive process for next-gen upgrades. Additionally, this process is different for physical disc games and digital games. Take a look at the steps for upgrading the games below.

Digitally owned titles

  1. Log in to the account you own the game on
  2. Search for the PS5 version of the game on the PlayStation store
  3. Check if the game is available for a free upgrade or has a paid upgrade
  4. Download/purchase the game to play it on the PS5

Physical Disc titles

  1. Put the PS4 disc into the PS5
  2. A new option will suggest that an upgrade is available for the same
  3. Download/purchase the upgrade depending on the developer’s decision

The catch with the disc upgrade is that the disc will always have to be in the PS5 to play that game. This seems rather unnecessary considering you have to download the full game, anyway. Still, there is a lot of manual work to be done by the players here for next-gen upgrades. This is in stark contrast to the Smart Delivery system of Xbox, which makes life easier for users.

Upgrading to the next-gen will be a big talking point going forward as well. This is because there will be many developers who would want to charge for the upgrades. In any case, the difference in the process of upgrading is quite evident for both the consoles. Xbox users definitely have something to boast about here, while PlayStation 5 has seemingly fallen behind in this aspect.

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