Microsoft has now revealed a load more new details about the Xbox Series X – and one of the most exciting items we learnt about was its new Smart Delivery feature.
What is Smart Delivery? It relates to game ownership: in short, if you buy one version of an Xbox game that supports Smart Delivery, you’ll always have access to the best version of that game no matter which hardware you’re playing it on.
So if you buy Halo Infinite on Xbox One, then later play it on Xbox Series X, your one-time purchase gets you the versions of the game optimized for both Xbox consoles.
Cross-gen titles will be a standard part of game release cycles in the next year or two – so it’s a useful initiative. Microsoft has committed to Smart Delivery on all of its exclusive Xbox Games Studios titles, and CD Projekt Red has committed to doing the same with Cyberpunk 2077.
We’re yet to hear about other Smart Delivery titles, but the Xbox Series X gameplay reveal happening on May 7 (4pm BST / 11am ET / 8am PT) may well have some new announcements in that area. Stay tuned on TechRadar to find out as and when it happens.
Here’s everything we know about Xbox Smart Delivery so far.
Xbox Smart Delivery explained
Microsoft describes Smart Delivery as a “technology” that allows you to “buy a game once and know that – whether you are playing it on Xbox One or Xbox Series X – you are getting the right version of that game on whatever Xbox you’re playing on.”
Smart Delivery will be used on all exclusive Xbox Game Studios games, with Halo Infinite cited as an example. It means you only need to buy a game once, then you’ll get the best possible version for the console you’re playing it on. That means if you buy Halo Infinite on a 2013 Xbox One and later decide to play it on Xbox Series X, you’ll get the version optimized for that console.
It’s essentially future-proofing your purchase. You won’t be playing the Xbox One version of Halo Infinite through backward compatibility on Xbox Series X – your single purchase will get you the version of the game meant for the console you’re playing it on.
Microsoft has committed to supporting Smart Delivery with all of its first-party games – which will include Halo Infinite, Gears 5, Ori and the Blind Forest – and the technology will be available for every developer and publisher. Let’s hope they all use it. Developers and publishers can even “choose to use it for titles that will be released on Xbox One first and come to the Xbox Series X later”.
Smart Delivery presumably only applies to digital purchases, where game ownership is regulated – but the Xbox news post doesn’t actually differentiate between digital and physical games on this front. We’ve reached to Xbox for clarification on whether it affects both digital and physical games, and will update if it gets back to us.
Which games will support Xbox Smart Delivery?
Halo Infinite will support Xbox Smart Delivery, along with every Xbox Game Studios title that’s coming to both Xbox One and Xbox Series X. Which games that’ll entail hasn’t been revealed yet – but it could include Rare’s Everwild and Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, assuming they’re going to be cross-gen titles.
In terms of third-party games, as explained above, it sounds like it requires developers and publishers to opt in. The first major game to confirm Smart Delivery support is Cyberpunk 2077, as seen below.
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/nfkfFLj85wFebruary 24, 2020
Expect more third-party games to follow in the coming months, with wide repercussions for the way game remasters are made and sold.
Why’s that? Smart Delivery could make it harder for publishers to repackage last-gen games with higher frame rates and upgraded effects while charging an extra $40-60 for a new version. But for players, it seems like a sweet deal so far.
Smart delivery: when to buy Xbox games
Smart delivery does throw up some interesting questions about when to buy the biggest games coming out this year.
There’s no real reason to wait to buy Xbox One games in their current-gen iterations, given you’ll be able to play the Xbox Series X version whenever you end up upgrading to the incoming console.
However, there may be an element of fatigue in replaying massive games like Cyberpunk 2077 on next-gen consoles. If the idea of retreading your steps on a second Xbox generation excites you, go ahead! But if you think you’ll only get around to playing a game once anyway, it might be a better idea to wait around for the beefed-up, graphically superior version on the Xbox Series X.