In context: Many developers working simultaneously on current and next-gen versions of their game are offering upgrades to the upcoming consoles for free if owners buy or have already bought the PS4 or XB1 version. Some developers are even giving away next-gen versions of older games. CD Projekt Red is one.
On Friday, CD Projekt Red announced that it was at work on a next-generation version of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The developer says it will have several "graphical and technical enhancements," including ray tracing and faster load times. It will also include both expansions and all the DLC.
The upgraded versions will be available as a standalone purchase on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and PC. Owners of the game on current hardware are eligible for a free upgrade, but CDPR did not mention how this would be distributed. Of course, you must own one of the new consoles or compatible PC hardware.
The Witcher 3 is coming to the next generation!— The Witcher (@witchergame) September 4, 2020
A visually and technically enhanced version of the game will be available for purchase for PC and next-gen consoles & as a free update for owners of the game on PC, @Xbox One and @PlayStation 4.
More: https://t.co/JclubxpJim pic.twitter.com/gWCJzST3vr
Free upgrades to the new systems is a growing trend with this generation of consoles. It's a relatively new concept. In the past, developers rarely bothered with next-gen upgrades at all, and when they did it was usually well after launch and never for free.
Of course, this is not too unusual for a player-centric developer like CD Projekt Red. It has already said customers who purchase Cyberpunk 2077 on Xbox One will get a free XBSX upgrade when it is available. But other developers like EA, which are well known for their greed, are jumping on the free upgrade bandwagon too.
It makes one wonder what is in it for the developer other than great publicity. The Witcher 3 is a five-year-old title. So it's not like it is a recent release trying to make it out on both consoles. Are Sony and Microsoft making it worthwhile for studios to do this? It is certainly something that will push console sales, but how does that translate for the developers?