During the recent Assassin’s Creed Valhalla reveal, we learned that it will be supporting Xbox’s next-gen Smart Delivery feature. Here’s how it was described in the product details section of the game’s listing:
When we see it like this, it looks very similar to Sony’s cross-buy feature that was implemented for PS3/Vita and later PS4. Whilst they bare a resemblance, make no mistake, Smart Delivery is an evolution of cross-buy and brings with it some exciting features for the customer.
In the days of Sony’s cross-buy between PS3/PS4/Vita you would be required to redeem and download a different version of the same game. This meant buying a game on the PS3 would also net you the Vita counterpart.
Where Smart Delivery differs is in that you only buy/redeem the game once. Smart Delivery ensures you’re playing the best possible version of supported games no matter if you’re playing on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, or other systems in the family of devices.
It requires nothing from the customer at all. Sit back, buy one version of the game, and Smart Delivery takes care of the rest. Here’s how Xbox officially describe it:
Smart Delivery: This technology empowers 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. We’re making the commitment to use Smart Delivery on all our exclusive Xbox Game Studios titles, including Halo Infinite, ensuring you only have to purchase a title once in order to play the best available version for whichever Xbox console they choose to play on. This technology is available for all developers and publishers, and they can choose to use it for titles that will be release on Xbox One first and come to the Xbox Series X later.Source
Again, this can be pretty confusing as it sounds a lot like cross-buy so one may end up thinking Smart Delivery sounds nothing more than just a rose by another name but here’s our attempt at breaking it down and why it is a feature Microsoft should be applauded for.
Take Cyberpunk 2077 for example, a game already confirmed to support Smart Delivery, let’s say you can’t wait for the game and decide to buy the Xbox One version, before the Xbox Series X is even released. When you decide to upgrade, there’s no legwork involved to redeem a separate game code, Smart Delivery recognises you’re playing your one version of the game on a different device and will scale accordingly.
The biggest difference easily overlooked is the cross-buy entitled customers to multiple versions of the same game on multiple platforms. With Smart Delivery, customers will play the only version of the game across multiple SKUs that will smartly scale accordingly.
This also guarantees cross-saves and DLC support, something cross-buy lacked since the games were technically different from one another. If you have a Series X in your living room and a Xbox One upstairs, you can play the 4K version of your game downstairs during the day, then retire to play the Xbox One version upstairs, all with the same save etc.
For instance, between PS3 and PS4, I owned Black Flag and with cross-buy upgraded to the PS4 version. However, I was forced to start from the beginning of the game due to the fact they were two separate versions of the same game. Smart Delivery eliminates this and makes for a far more elegant implementation.
There’s a reason Microsoft have coined it Smart Delivery and not just called it cross-buy. Smart Delivery takes the principle of cross-buy but evolves it to make it even more customer-friendly.