Sony announced today that Horizon Forbidden West is getting a few different editions that are available for pre-order now. That’s not what we’re really here to talk about, but if you’re wondering what those editions look like, there’s Digital Deluxe Edition with a bunch of digital goods, a steelbook Special Edition, then a Collector’s Edition with a big statue of one of the game’s mechanical dinosaurs and protagonist Aloy and an art book, then a even more super special Regalla Edition with more little doodads. For a full rundown, check out the PlayStation Blog post about it.
What we’re actually here to talk about is how, we’re approaching a year into the PlayStation 5’s lifetime, and Sony is still not jumping on the cross-generation train, which Microsoft has openly embraced. Because if you’re a PlayStation 4 owner and are planning on upgrading to a PS5 eventually, you’ll have to buy one of the super special editions rather than a standard version to get access to a copy of Horizon Forbidden West for both consoles.
“For players looking to have access to both the PS4 & PS5 versions of Horizon Forbidden West, please purchase the Digital Deluxe, Collector’s, or Regalla Editions. Dual entitlement does not apply to the standard and Special Editions.”
On top of all of this, Horizon Forbidden West doesn’t even have an option to upgrade from standard to digital deluxe at a discounted price, according to an FAQ. So if you want to gain access to cross-gen support for the game and your saved data after you’ve already paid for the standard edition, you’ll have to shell out another $79.99.
This isn’t even the first time Sony has hidden a PS5 upgrade behind a special edition, as the remastered version of Marvel’s Spider-Man was only made available as part of the Ultimate Edition of Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Meaning if you wanted to play the remastered version of the game you already owned, you had to shell out, at minimum $70. Not every PS4 to PS5 upgrade has had this issue, as games like Miles Morales itself and Sackboy: A Big Adventure would let you freely upgrade to PS5 if you put the PS4 copy in your newer console. So despite systems in place for PS4 to PS5 upgrades being readily available, Sony is making an active decision with Horizon Forbidden West to not use them.
Meanwhile, Xbox has been leaning into a ubiquitous ecosystem with its Smart Delivery feature, which lets you buy a game on one system and play the optimized version on another. This way no one will accidentally slip up and buy an Xbox One version of a game instead of an Xbox Series X/S one. It’s baked into the storefront they have, and it’s the most player-friendly way to go about the cross-generation era we’re in right now.
In the early years of a console generation, trying to find out how to best buy and experience games has been complicated is complicated for those who don’t get a new console when it first launches. Whether that be in deciding whether or not to buy into something when you still have an old console, or if you should wait to play it when you’ve managed to track down a new system. But now that these companies have made it possible to buy a game on one system and freely play it as it should run on another, when they find ways around the same customer-friendly structures they implemented, it raises questions of why. Games like Sackboy: A Big Adventure sew goodwill into the PlayStation 5’s story, then when big, tentpole games like Horizon Forbidden West draw near, those same features are suddenly nowhere to be found. And in the face of a direct competitor fully embracing the simplicity of buying a game once and playing it wherever you want to, Sony creating new loopholes for Horizon speaks volumes.