Sony has now walked this back, all purchases of Horizon Forbidden West on PS4 will be able to upgrade to the PS5 version at no additional cost. They have also cemented that all future PS4 -> PS5 upgrades will cost $10, which while not ideal is reasonable as the cost of games is $10 higher on PS5. If you’d like to read my original commentary on this news it is preserved below:
Horizon Forbidden West, sequel to 2017’s most overshadowed-by-Breath-of-the-Wild game Horizon: Zero Dawn, was recently delayed out of 2021 and into early 2022 by Sony and Guerrilla. However it showed up today to preorder on the PlayStation store and people started noticing some small print:
The minimum cost of entry if you want to own both the PS4 and PS5 versions is the $80 you’ll need to pony up for the digital deluxe edition. Sony has been moving towards just plain not offering an upgrade path for their PS4 games with things like the Ghost of Tsushima where they charged $29.99 for the upgrade from the original PS4 version to the Director’s Cut for PS5. Of course in the case of Ghost of Tsushima this also gave you the new Iki island expansion, but if you wanted to upgrade from PS4 base to PS4 Director’s Cut this was only $19.99. While there were multiple upgrade paths for the PS4 version to the PS5 version, all of them were at least $9.99 for the new upgraded PS5 graphics.
This is in sharp contrast with their distinguished competition, where Microsoft just sells you the game and you play it wherever you want. If you buy Halo Infinite from the Microsoft Store in December your $60 will let you play the game on an Xbox One, Xbox Series, PC and mobile device via Cloud Gaming. That might as well be 4 versions of the game for a single price. Of course you can also just subscribe to Game Pass Ultimate for $14.99 a month (so around half the price of the upgrade for Ghost) and play on all of those consoles, whilst also getting access to 100s of other games.
It’s sad to see, as a big fan of the PlayStation and their exclusives, how anti-consumer these practices are. They’re pretty clear on the store page for Horizon Forbidden West that there is no upgrade path at all for the base version of the game, so PS4 owners who are hoping to get a PS5 in the near future after buying Forbidden West will either have to buy the digital deluxe edition or resign themselves to playing the inferior PS4 version on their brand new PS5.
I’m hoping that articles like this one, and the myriad others I’ve seen, that we’re going to see a reversal of this policy in the near future, but they didn’t change their mind with Ghost of Tsushima so I’m not holding my breath.
My advice would be that if you’re not sure when you’re going to get a PS5 just wait and buy Forbidden West when you are able to get one. It’ll probably even be on sale by that point.