Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Xbox Series X

Xbox Smart Delivery brings forward compatibility to next Xbox

It’s normal to buy one game several times, particularly if you own generations of consoles. But that might change.

There’s a new generation of video game consoles on the way, and if there’s one thing we want — if there’s one must-have on our wishlist — it’s backwards compatibility. It’s something Sony has never really worked into its consoles (and we’re not sure why), and yet something Microsoft seems to actively think about, which is at least a good thing.

You might think you’re buying a console to play the newest games, but if you’re a gamer, there’s a good chance you’re going to want to relive some of the glory days of the old games, too. When the Xbox One came out, you can bet we’d want to replay Mirror’s Edge, Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, among others, even though they were Xbox 360 games. And eventually, Microsoft let it happen.

That’s a stark contrast with Sony’s approach to backwards compatibility, which doesn’t seem to exist whatsoever. Case in point, we’d love to play both Echochrome and the original Little Big Planet, but neither will run on any current generation of the PlayStation 4.

With two big console launches around the corner, thinking about how gamers play titles they’ve purchased on one should be a big part of the conversation, and Microsoft is at least tackling the move from the current Xbox One to the next generation of the Xbox, the Xbox Series X.

While we’re yet to see the power of the console and the level of graphical prowess, Microsoft has decided this week to talk about a concept it calls “Smart Delivery”, which is a kind of backwards compatibility, except it goes the other way. You might as well call Xbox Smart Delivery “forward compatibility”, because that’s roughly what the principle is.

It goes like this: buy once on the current Xbox One, and have it work on the next version, the Xbox Series X, complete with possible graphical upgrades thanks to the power of the new console.

Smart Delivery is a concept Microsoft is rolling out to all Xbox Game Studios titles that are “optimised for Xbox Series X”, and mean if you buy it for the Xbox One now, if you upgrade to the Xbox Series X when it comes out, the game will be available on your new Xbox model there, too. It’s like buying a game title once, and having it made available through the other consoles.

Microsoft is making this work for Gears 5 and the upcoming title Halo Infinite, with other titles supporting this including Cyberpunk 2077, Destiny 2, Dirt 5, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and more.

While eyes are clearly on the next Xbox, hence the importance of this announcement, titles in Xbox Smart Delivery may also be compatible with Windows PCs, too.

We say “may” because they’ll have to be included as part of Microsoft’s Play Anywhere program, which means you may be able to get both Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Windows compatibility from the one game title, provided the developer allows it.

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