After the reveal of Madden NFL 21 during today's Inside Xbox event, EA explained how it will allow players to upgrade to next-gen copies of its games.
EA's upgrade offer sits outside the Smart Delivery program Microsoft is preparing for its next-gen ecosystem. Here's how it works with Madden NFL 21: if you buy an Xbox One copy of the game by December 31, 2020, you'll be able to upgrade to the Xbox Series X version for free until March 31, 2021. Where Smart Delivery represents universal ownership, EA is offering a direct, one-way upgrade from current-gen to next-gen.
EA only discussed Madden NFL 21 for now, but it sounds like this upgrade program will be applied to other games under the publisher's umbrella as well. In the company's latest shareholder meeting, EA COO Blake Jorgensen confirmed that, "This year the phasing includes the effect of revenue recognition from the games we are launching for the current generation of consoles that can also be upgraded free for the next generation."
It remains to be seen where all of EA's upcoming cross-gen games will be eligible for the same three-month upgrade grade period, but with FIFA 21, NHL 21, and several other EA games due between now and April 2021, Madden NFL 21 surely won't be the only to get an upgrade.
However, it's worth noting that this is only available on Xbox platforms, at least for now. In an email to GamesRadar, an EA spokesperson said the publisher isn't yet confirming whether it will have a comparable upgrade plan for PS5. That may change in the near future, but for now, Xbox has the edge.