With the next-generation approaching, Microsoft will have a Smart Delivery system to allow publishers to allow anyone buying games for current gen to get and play the game now, then when they upgrade consoles, to easily transfer and continue on the Xbox Series X with a whole slew of improvements. However, the system isn’t mandatory, so publishers can decide how they want to handle the transition between console generations.
While it isn’t mandatory, Microsoft is recommending that publishers don’t sell upgrades for Xbox Series X as DLC, according to a report by VGC. The one option is to make the upgrade free, or as a compromise, to have a discount. NBA 2K21 is an example of this, offering a $100 edition that includes two copies of the game: one for Xbox One and another for Xbox Series X. Meanwhile FIFA 21, Cyberpunk 2077, Destiny 2 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla are offering free upgrades.
Whatever publishers decide, the choice seems is currently permanent. Microsoft won’t allow games to support Smart Delivery after launch, as it needs to be implemented before either version has shipped.
Games which support Smart Delivery are treated as a single SKU in the Xbox ecosystem, where games that don’t will have different SKUs per generation. Having a single SKU makes cross-generation saves and achievement compatibility a lot easier, meaning less headaches for players.