Xbox One gets backwards compatibility

By Craig Taylor | The Duquesne Duke

Photo Courtesy of Microsoft Former President of Microsoft’s Xbox Division Don Mattrick was against backwards compatability during his tenure. Mattick left the company in July for a job at Zynga, the makers of “Farmville.”

Photo Courtesy of Microsoft
Former President of Microsoft’s Xbox Division Don Mattrick was against backwards compatability during his tenure. Mattick left the company in July for a job at Zynga, the makers of “Farmville.”

Starting today, Xbox One owners are now able to play select Xbox 360 games on their Xbox One via the latest system update.

The new technology emulates an Xbox 360 operating system on Xbox One, so games will work just the same, including online functionality. Players also have access to the Xbox 360 guide menu and can even join parties on Xbox 360. Additionally, Xbox One features like screenshots, clip recording and streaming services also work in tandem with backwards compatibility.

Downloadable content as well as game saves are promised to carry over too. In addition, Xbox 360 games and DLC can be purchased to play on Xbox One through Xbox.com.

While only a certain number of Xbox 360 games will initially be playable with the new backwards compatibility feature, Microsoft will add new games to the registry monthly starting in December. Xbox has released a list of the more than 100 games that are available right now to install via a disc or digital license. Some highlights include the original “Mass Effect,” the entire “Gears of War” series and “Fallout 3.”

To play a backwards-compatible game, simply insert the Xbox 360 disc into the Xbox One and it will begin installing. Games that were installed with a disc will still require the disc to play, although games purchased digitally can be downloaded through the Xbox Marketplace.

An additional perk to backwards compatibility being on Xbox One is that publishers are bundling their new releases with older games from the last generation. For instance, all Xbox One copies of “Fallout 4” come bundled with a download for “Fallout 3.” Those who purchased “Gears of War: Ultimate Edition” are given the series’ previous four titles completely free.

The announcement of backwards compatibility for Xbox One at E3 2015 last June came as a shock to the industry, given the brand’s previous stance on the feature. Former president of Microsoft’s Xbox Division Don Mattrick called backwards compatibility, “really backwards” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal soon after the official announcement of the Xbox One back in May of 2013.

Mattrick left Microsoft in the following July, and Xbox’s current figurehead, Phil Spencer, has been praised for his transparency and his emphasis on games as Xbox’s primary focus.

Xbox One is the second of the Big Three next-generation consoles to be backwards compatible. Nintendo’s latest console, the Wii U, is able to play Wii discs, as well as an expansive catalog of games from Nintendo’s history through download on the Virtual Console. PlayStation 4 is not backwards compatible, although there is PlayStation Now, a subscription-based service that allows PlayStation 4 owners to stream a monthly rotation of PlayStation 3 games onto their console.

Some speculate backwards compatibility to be a critical weapon in Microsoft’s arsenal against the dominating Sony. According to the website Extreme Tech, as of last fiscal quarter, the PlayStation 4 sold an estimated 4 million units to Xbox One’s 1.85 million. Since release, the PlayStation 4 has sold a little under 30 million to Xbox One’s 17 million. The Wii U is still behind its two opponents, only selling 10.74 million units despite releasing a year earlier.

While the console race is still red hot, backwards compatibility is a free add-on that Xbox One owners can be excited about.

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