"No one gets left behind," goes the Battlefield 4 trailer. But if you're one of those making the move to play Battlefield 4 on the PlayStation 4 when it comes out this week or the Xbox One next week, your friends aren't coming with you. Not unless they buy new consoles as well.
Battlefield has an upgrade offer with several merchants, so that you can trade in your PS3 or Xbox 360 Battlefield 4 discs and get, for a low price, versions of Battlefield 4 to play on the PS4 or Xbox One.
What's not to like? What the upgrade FAQ doesn't explain -- but Battlefield's press folks clarified for me when I asked -- is that if you step up to one of these other consoles, there's no going back. All your achievements and stats will move to the new platforms. You can't later return to play on the Xbox 360 or the PS3, at least not using the same account. I was told:
The Xbox One does not allow you to play online with friends on Xbox 360. If you want to play with friends on Xbox 360 you will need an Xbox 360 console and a copy of Battlefield 4 for Xbox 360...
Stat transfer is one time and one way -- so advancements that you make in your stats and achievements on Xbox One will not be visible if you return to Xbox 360...
PS3 to PS4 migration works the same way as it does for Xbox 360 to Xbox One.
Why does this matter? For some, it might not. If you enjoy multiplayer gaming with whatever random people you encounter during a match, you're fine. But if you have friends you routinely play with, they also have to upgrade. People who stay on the Xbox 360 or the PS3 can't play against those on the Xbox One or the PS4. And people who have migrated to the Xbox One or the PS4 can't go back to using the older consoles, even if they keep those consoles and the game discs, in order to stay connected with their friends.
Postscript: Ryan Schubert of our GameSpot sister site tells me that Battlefield customer service has told him that if you migrate, your stats on the old platform are "frozen," though you can still play through your acccount there. In other words, you can play with your friends who haven't upgraded, but none of your achievements will log to your profile.
I can't speak about other multiplayer games that are out there, but the issue is likely the same. If you move to a next-generation console, chances are you won't be able to play against existing friends unless they also migrate. And the idea of keeping both consoles in order to play against the "left behinds" might not work.
So, think carefully. If you've invested in that shiny, new console (as I have, for the Xbox One), playing Battlefield 4 on it or another multiplayer game may come with an extra price -- the price of losing some of your friends, if they don't take the plunge as well.
Now how about that Battlefield 4 trailer, where at least in gameplay, no one is left behind: