Horizon Forbidden West Upgrade System Ignores PS5 Shortages

Horizon Forbidden West's consumer-unfriendly upgrade system seemingly shows how much Sony wants you to just buy a PS5 already.

Horizon Forbidden West
Photo: PlayStation Studios

Sony has revealed how Horizon Forbidden West‘s PS4-to-PS5 upgrade system will work, and the details of this disappointing pre-order policy loom large over PlayStation’s upcoming September 9 PS5 showcase event.

Horizon Forbidden West will launch on February 18, 2022, for PS4 and PS5. If you buy the Standard or Special Editions of the game for PS4 (which cost $59.99 and $69.99, respectively), you will not receive access to the equivalent PS5 versions of the game. You will still be able to play those PS4 versions of the game on PS5, but they will not benefit from any of the enhancements offered by the PS5 version of the game.

In order to buy the PS4 version of Horizon Forbidden West and also receive access to the upgraded PS5 version of the upcoming sequel (a process Sony calls “dual entitlement” in this FAQ), you’ll need to buy the Digital Deluxe, Collector’s, or Regalla Editions of the game (which cost $79.99, $199.99, and $259.99 respectively). I recommend looking at that FAQ for the full details, but the long and short of it is that if you’re a PS4 owner who wants to buy Horizon Forbidden West for your current console and eventually play the full PS5 version of the game without making additional purchases, it’s going to cost you at least $79.99.

That’s surprising in and of itself, but what’s really shocking in this instance is that Sony and the PlayStation team say that there are “no plans for an update offer from Standard to Digital Deluxe Edition at this time.” That’s a significant change in policy compared to tiles like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut which offered easier, price equivalent ways to upgrade your PS4 copy of those games to the PS5 version of those games.

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The fact of the matter is that Sony has always been less generous with their next-gen upgrade options than Microsoft. Any hope of the company offering a similar “buy it once, play it anywhere” system (at least in terms of next-gen upgrades) went out the window long ago. They’re not that company, and based on how successful the PS5 has been so far and the ways that some fans will bend over backward to defend a strictly worse consumer policy because it must be good for business, I’m guessing they’re not going to change that policy in the near future.

This is something different, though. This feels less like Sony trying to nickel and dime their fans by saying “of course you have to pay the price difference between the PS4 and PS5 versions of the games” and a lot more like they’re trying to softly warn their fans that the time of the PS4 is coming to an end and that they need to be doing everything in their power to buy a PS5 or otherwise accept a future where it’s going to be more even expensive to plan for your eventual hardware upgrade.

Simply put, that’s an absurd expectation at a time when it’s not easy for the average person to buy a PS5 even if they want one. Even if you’re willing to accept that Sony is doing everything it can to battle scalpers (which is debatable) and the shortages they contribute to, the fact of the matter is that even the PS5’s recent design changes aren’t going to make it significantly easier to find a PS5 anytime in the near future. Those shortages will likely continue well into 2022.

It’s also pretty hard to justify this decision in the name of the old “next-gen games cost more to make, so they cost more to buy” argument. We’ve already talked about how that argument is inherently hard to justify in the current climate, and it certainly doesn’t apply to a scenario where you’re somehow arguing that PS4 owners have to pay $10 more than the cost of the base edition of the PS5 version of the game just to access relatively minor next-gen features should they eventually decide to spend $399.99+ on a PS5.

What’s really concerning, though, is that this announcement broke on the same day that PlayStation confirmed that they’ll be treating us all to a “look into the future of PS5” during a special showcase event on September 9. As much I’m looking forward to next-gen gaming properly beginning so that we can all benefit from the many things that means, a combination of console shortages, game delays, and the naturally slow process of developers properly transitioning from one generation of gaming to the next means that we’re just not there yet and no amount of upgrade fees is going to get us there any faster.

Sony has walked controversial decisions back in the past, and I hope that proves to be the case here. The entire console gaming world is still split between two gaming generations at the moment, and that’s not due to a lack of desire but rather a series of difficulties much like this one that Sony is currently trying to impose for no reason that’s easy to defend.

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