Electronic Arts has unveiled Madden NFL 21, the next entry in its leading football series, and among the latest titles committed to Xbox Series X support. Taking to Microsoft's Xbox Series X gameplay showcase, a brief trailer provides a tease of graphical advancements to come, with further details slated for its EA PLAY event, on track for June 11.
Madden NFL 21 also commits a free upgrade from Xbox One to Xbox Series X, aiming to ease the generational shift between consoles by eliminating the need to purchase the game twice.
It's a common gesture across the early Xbox Series X catalog, with Microsoft's "Smart Delivery" initiative providing a standardized system for hassle-free upgrades on Xbox Series X. It's built into Xbox Series X, automatically serving the best available version, whether using discs or digital downloads. Over one dozen Xbox Series X titles have already committed to Xbox Smart Delivery, with Cyberpunk 2077, Halo Infinite, and Assassin's Creed Valhalla among early supporters.
While Madden NFL 21 commits to free Xbox Series X upgrades, Electronic Arts never explicitly named Smart Delivery support. It appears the publisher distances itself from Microsoft's own program, instead opting for a limited-time upgrade offer, valid until March 31, 2021.
"To receive the offer, players must purchase Madden NFL 21 on Xbox One by December 31, 2020 and upgrade to Xbox Series X by March 31, 2021," the EA site reads. With Microsoft committed to holiday availability for Xbox Series X, Electronic Arts seemingly provides players with just a few months to buy the new console and secure the free next-generation upgrade.
The move spotlights Electronic Arts as the first publisher to break away from Microsoft's own Smart Delivery upgrade program, instead favoring a more restrictive, limited-time solution. With Electronic Arts currently averse to Smart Delivery, it's unlikely this is the only upcoming title from the publisher offering its own upgrade path.