There's A Catch To Madden NFL 21's Free Xbox Series X Upgrade Offer
Madden NFL 21 is adopting a policy that is very similar to, but seemingly not quite the same as, the Xbox "Smart Delivery" feature.
Madden NFL 21 was confirmed for Xbox Series X as part of the recent Inside Xbox presentation. As part of the announcement, EA boasted that you can purchase the new Madden on Xbox One and upgrade to the Series X version at no additional cost. But there's a time limit to the offer to keep in mind.
In a press release, EA noted that to upgrade, you need to have purchased Madden NFL 21 on Xbox One by December 31, 2020, and then to upgrade to an Xbox Series X by March 31, 2021. EA CFO Blake Jorgensen recently commented on free next-gen upgrades during an earnings call and mentioned the PS5 in that context, so a similar offer may be available across PlayStation platforms.
It's worth noting, though, that this offer appears to be distinct from Microsoft's Smart Delivery feature. That feature allows players to download an optimized version no matter what Xbox platform they play on, for publishers who agree to utilize it. That means games will get an upgrade when you get new hardware, but as Xbox's Jason Ronald noted in an interview with GameSpot, it goes the other way too. If you're a Series X owner and visit a friend who owns an Xbox One S, it will download the appropriate version.
Madden NFL 21 was not listed among the Smart Delivery-enabled games shown during today's presentation, so this seems to be EA's own policy. GameSpot has contacted Microsoft regarding whether we can expect any similar limitations for Smart Delivery. When reached, EA suggested we'll hear more about the offer at EA Play Live in June.