Control snafu shows how one publisher is struggling with next-gen upgrades

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Last month, 505 Games announced that it was “unfortunately unable to offer an upgrade path to all existing [console] Control players” for PlayStation 5 and/or Xbox Series S/X enhancements. Today, though, an apparent temporary snafu is showing just how simple such a free upgrade could be for many Control players on current-generation systems, at least.

As reported in a lengthy ResetEra thread, a number of players who previously bought the Control Digital Deluxe Edition on PS4 were surprised last night to find they also owned the Control Ultimate Edition. That new version includes the base game, DLC, and season pass and is the one that “take[s] full advantage of the power and features provided by these new consoles,” as 505 Games puts it.

Within hours, though, those same players noted their Ultimate Edition ownership had been revoked and reverted back to the current-generation Digital Deluxe Edition. That version will not get any hardware-specific enhancements when played on next-generation consoles.

505 Games hasn’t responded to Ars Technica’s comment request on the apparent snafu (which may have been caused by a simple data-entry error on the PlayStation Store). But the temporary upgrade highlights how simple it would be to give a free next-generation console upgrade to many Control owners.

This isn’t all that surprising. Plenty of other publishers—including Bethesda, Ubisoft, and EA—have promised that their recent and/or upcoming PS4 and Xbox One releases will include free upgrades to the corresponding next-generation console version. Microsoft is heavily pushing its “Smart Delivery” system to help automate this process for the Xbox Series S and X.

What’s the problem?

505, though, has been insistent that providing a similar free upgrade for Control is too difficult. “While it is challenging bringing any game to next-gen platforms, we quickly realized it was even more difficult to upgrade our current user base to next-gen with full parity across platforms with our year-old game,” the company wrote in a blog post last month.

Every upgrade path 505 pursued, the company said, “meant that at least one group of players ended up being left out of the upgrade for various reasons. As of today, we can’t offer an upgrade to everyone, and leaving any one group out feels unfair. We understand that is not what you want to hear.”

That might be technically true in certain situations. If you bought Control for current-generation consoles on disc, for instance, that version wouldn’t be compatible with the Xbox Series S or the Digital Edition of the PlayStation 5, neither of which sport the necessary disc drive to confirm ownership. Players that bought disc-incompatible hardware would presumably go into their purchase aware of that problem, though.

The game’s expansion packs also complicate things a bit. Giving players with the base version of Control a free Ultimate Edition upgrade would essentially mean granting those players free access to the game’s current and upcoming expansions. And since the complete “Ultimate Edition” is the only version 505 is developing for next-generation consoles, the company says it’s impossible to offer separate base game and expansion upgrades.

As last night’s snafu highlights, though, neither of these issues applies for players who purchased the Digital Deluxe Edition of Control, which also includes a full DLC season pass. The same upgrade could also be provided to players who purchased the base game and season pass separately (via disc or digital) without too much effort (players who purchased current expansions à la carte might be out of luck, logistically).

Instead, all these players are stuck paying $39.99 to upgrade a year-old game to new hardware. Those who don’t will still be able to play their current versions of Control via backward compatibility, but the promised “enhanced experience” in that case will be less pronounced than the Ultimate Edition’s fuller next-gen remaster.

It’s a confusing situation, made all the more confusing by 505’s insistence that because it can’t give everyone who bought Control a free upgrade, no one should get a free upgrade. We’ll be keeping an eye out to see if any other publishers are caught similarly flat-footed during what might be the most complicated console generation transition ever.


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