There is no doubt that the word anti-consumer has been completely beaten into the dirt. It seems almost every AAA game has some form of public outcry surrounding it. From games being exclusive to certain PC storefronts, all the way to exclusive DLC on 3rd party games. On all of these topics, there are often two sides to the argument. Very rarely are publishers so tone-deaf that the gaming social media space stands together on a topic. However, through some form of wizardry. 505 Games/Remedy somehow have made everyone come together and go “what gives?” with the announcement of Control: Ultimate Edtion.
What is causing all of this drama you might ask? Well as many people know Control was the 2019 sci-fi adventure developed by Remedy Games. Control received critical acclaim and even earned a spot as a runner up for Game of The Year at the 2019 Game Awards. While the game received much praise for its risks, storytelling and most notably its almost next generation feel. The game did not make the waves that many thought it would. The game didn’t even crack the top 20 during the NPD of the month it released. However, it had a passionate and loving fanbase that nonstopped talked about the game and brought it to the forefront of discussion. For Remedy’s fans, this was a return to glory after the let down that was Quantum Break. Now, these same fans are being absolutely ripped off.
Next Generation Forward
As I mentioned prior, Control was a graphical masterpiece. On PC with raytracing, the game was absolutely stunning. This alongside Metro Exodus were some of the forerunners for raytracing technology. While the console versions of Control were impressive, the performance of the game paid dearly for it. Framerate chugging was common on base consoles, while it wasn’t uncommon for the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X to struggle with the game. This made many people excited to play Control again via PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. There are also many developers touting free next-generation updates to their games. Either through cross-buy/smart delivery or through backward compatibility. This upcoming generation had so far been led by developers and publishers reassuring fans that their content would be coming with them, while also benefitting from updates and patches.
Fast forward to the announcement of Control: Ultimate Edition. Many games have ultimate editions where you get all of the DLC included with the base game for a discounted price. For many like myself, this is a cost-effective way of picking up a game down the road. However, Remedy had revealed the new DLC for Control the week before this announcement, which features a crossover with beloved Remedy character Alan Wake. I went out of my way to buy the game and the season pass in order to not miss this DLC and to check out the game. Then a week later the Ultimate Edition was revealed at a cheaper price point then what I paid for the game and season pass. This happens, and I was fine with it until a key part was explained.
The Ultimate Surprise
Players who buy the Control: Ultimate Edition will get all the DLC, and base game. As well as a free upgrade path to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. All for the low price of $39.99, this all sounds amazing right now right? Well, it is if you haven’t bought Control or its Season Pass. However, if you did both of those things, you won’t get a free upgrade, this upgrade is exclusive to the Ultimate Edition. That means that people who pre-ordered this game or bought the deluxe version of this game and dropped $79 USD at launch don’t get a free upgrade.
This feels like the biggest middle finger to the fans of this game. In a world where even EA who is often considered to be the worst of the worst is honoring next-generation upgrades for a limited time post-launch. It feels appalling that a studio such as Remedy would do something like this, as they have often been very fan-focused. While many online have been directing a lot of their grievances at Remedy. I wonder how much of a roll that 505 Games plays in this decision. While we will likely never know for sure, this seems more like an overzealous publisher move than anything else.
Completely Lost Control
The fact that if you own this game as it stands right now, there will be no way for you to getting the full next-generation experience. Not without buying the $40 ultimate edition, which if you own a digital copy. This is a massive waste of your money. What is the most mindblowing aspect of this whole situation is that 505 Games put out a blog post. In which they did absolutely nothing but make people even more confused and angry. They start off the blog post with the following quote.
Will I be able to purchase the Control base game on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, without the additional content?
No. The only version of Control available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will be Control Ultimate Edition.
However, if you have the Control base game, the Expansion Packs, or the Season Pass on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One in your collection, you will still be able to play 100% of your game and enjoy an enhanced experience through backward compatibility.
From this statement, it makes seem like if you own Control and the games DLC that you will be able to experience the games enhanced experience. However, if you read a couple of lines further, this becomes incredibly muddied.
I own the Control base game and Season Pass. Is this not the same as Control Ultimate Edition?
The objective of Control Ultimate Edition was not to release new exclusive content on the next gen platforms, but to offer the full Control gameplay experience to new Control players in a single, easy-to-find product. The PlayStation 5/Xbox Series X versions of Control contain the same content as the current gen game, though they do take full advantage of the power and features provided by these new consoles.
This is where things get incredibly questionable. The game is available via backward compatibility which will feature the games enhanced experience. However, they then go on to make a comparison that while the content between the base game and the ultimate edition is the same. That the ultimate edition will take full advantage of the power and features of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Does this mean that day one supporter won’t have access to raytracing and audio improvements, that weren’t available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4? These statements contradict each other and confuse the average consumer. This is actually worse than when 505 Games shared that nonsensical roadmap of the different versions of Control you could purchase at launch.
The Killing Blow
Despite all this, quite possibly the biggest kick in the teeth comes at the end of the blog post. The justification for the lack of an upgrade path is downright astonishing.
The upgrade path that we are offering is only possible when upgrading from the same version of the game. As we are only doing additional development on Control Ultimate Edition on the next gen platforms, we are unfortunately unable to offer an upgrade path to all existing Control players. We understand how this might upset a number of players but you will still be able to play the 2019 edition of Control and each Expansion on the new platforms.
Remove the PR speak from this statement and it essentially reads. “Hey, we know you are upset that you might have spent almost $100 on Control, but guess what? Deal with it”. While this may come across as overly blunt, but this is not how you should treat your fans. The people who take the risk and drop their $60 on your product day one don’t deserve this kind of treatment and run around. If they had an ounce of honesty they would have released this information before the reveal of the AEW expansions. But no, they waited a week later to announce this ultimate edition and what it would mean for the game.
Could They Fix It?
Now you may ask, “is it entitled to expect developers and publishers to give us these next-generation upgrades for free?”. You could perhaps argue this point, we are technically not entitled to free next-generation upgrades. I will also go on record as saying if the Control: Ultimate Edition launched exclusively on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. I don’t think there would be nearly as much blowback on this issue. Market it almost like a “remaster” similar to what we saw in the early days of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. While half-assed remasters are absolutely annoying, it certainly would not have blown up as big as this did.
There is a mountain of bad PR surrounding Control right now, and it almost seems like 505 Games was shocked by the response. However, when games like Far Cry 6, Marvel’s Avengers, Cyberpunk 2077, and many more are leading the way with next-generation upgrades. It feels like Remedy and 505 Games are swimming against the current with this decision. While I admire trend breakers, and outside the box thinking. I think this might have been a good opportunity to go with the flow. It will be interesting to see if we hear about any more about this issue officially from those involved. Only time will tell.