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Control publisher tries, fails to explain why next-gen upgrade is limited to Ultimate Edition

‘An explanation’ was posted Thursday morning

Jesse Faden floats down a purple hallway that’s shaped like a pentagon in Control Image: Remedy Entertainment/505 Games via Polygon
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

On Thursday morning, Control publisher 505 Games posted “an explanation” on its Control Ultimate Edition, a bundled version of the game and its expansions with a free next-gen upgrade. But the so-called explanation doesn’t explain much of anything at all.

The publisher originally announced Control Ultimate Edition last week, but existing Control players have been confused regarding next-gen upgrades. Specifically, 505 said that only Control Ultimate Edition buyers would get a free upgrade to the enhanced versions for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. In its post Thursday, the publisher reiterated that yes, that’s the case. Current Control players — using the original base game and the expansions or Season Pass — will not have any way to play the upgraded version for the new consoles. The only way for them to get the upgrade is to re-buy the game in the Control Ultimate Edition, which costs $39.99.

“Every avenue we pursued, there was some form of blocker and those blockers meant that at least one group of players ended up being left out of the upgrade for various reasons,” 505 Games said Thursday. “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.”

Video game publishers across the industry are handling next-gen upgrades differently, but many seem to be leaning toward free upgrades (like CD Projekt Red with Cyberpunk 2077 and Crystal Dynamics with Marvel’s Avengers) for current-gen players planning to switch over to next-gen consoles. For instance, Microsoft’s Smart Delivery program is making this easy, with what is essentially just an accessible way to support cross-generation games — and Microsoft is promising that for all its first-party games. Electronic Arts is doing things its own way for Madden NFL 21 and FIFA 21, using an initiative it calls Dual Entitlement that offers free next-gen upgrades during a set time period. 2K Sports is one of the few publishers that’s choosing not to offer a free upgrade, with the Xbox Series X and PS5 versions of NBA 2K21 priced $10 more than the current-gen games.

Though it didn’t necessarily provide a satisfying explanation, 505 Games did answer some questions for current Control players. They’ll be able to play the PS4/Xbox One version of the game on next-gen consoles at launch via backward compatibility and “enjoy an enhanced experience,” the company said.

The full Q&A is available here. As mentioned in the original post, Control Ultimate Edition will come bundled with the full base game and both expansions. It’ll also get The Expeditions (Control’s new endgame mode), Photo Mode, and all other content updates released since the game debuted in August 2019.

Control Ultimate Edition will be released for Windows PC via Steam on Aug. 27, and via the Epic Games Store on Sept. 10. The PS4 and Xbox One digital editions will be released on Sept. 10, too, with physical copies to follow by the end of the year. The next-gen versions will debut digitally by the end of 2020, with physical copies coming in “early 2021.”