Microsoft arguably dropped one of E3’s biggest moments early in their conference – the Xbox One is going backwards compatible – natively. Soon, your shiny new Xbox One will support both Xbox 360 discs through emulation and games previously purchased on the Xbox 360 store.

But wait – before you start shoving 15 discs at once into your Xbox One out of excitement, is this really the best move for Microsoft? Is delving into backwards compatibility just a way for the company to hang onto their success during the Xbox 360 era? Why dip into the past when what they do in the future in so vital?

Or is it a smart move? Will the functionality convince more gamers to finally make the jump into the new era of Xbox?

Phil Spencer claimed that backwards compatibility is one of the most requested features for the Xbox One, and thus, Microsoft is doing it. Eyes quickly turned to Sony as many were left wondering if the company would be adding such functionality to the PlayStation 4. After all, their attempt to let players stream PS3 games to the PS4 hasn’t taken off the way they – or gamers – probably hoped it would. Head of PlayStation Europe, Jim Ryan responded after the conferences saying, “We have experience of backwards compatibility. The earliest PS3 model was backwards compatible with PS2, and it is a much requested feature… but actually it’s not so greatly used,” he said.

So will the effort Microsoft puts into making Xbox One backwards compatible really be heavily adopted? On one hand, it certainly may sway those who have been on the fence when it comes to upgrading to an Xbox One – there may finally be a spot on your entertainment center for the new box, which often is one of the strongest reasons gamers clam for backwards compatibility – ease of access and less machines taking up space on your entertainment center.

And here’s something else that finally differentiates the two consoles when you’re staring at the two on the shelf. “We won’t charge you to play the games you already own,” Spencer said during the conference – something that Sony cannot say with some pretty high rental and subscription fees for their streaming service.

But on the other hand, as more and more games come out for consoles, is Ryan right in saying that people simply don’t use the capability as much? Sure, it’s a nice option to have available, but no gamer ever lacks a backlog to get through – and finding the time to play multiple games from the past a second, third, or fourth time through isn’t always possible.

And we can’t forget the concern of the actual implementation of the service. When the update for backwards compatibility actually rolls out, it won’t magically function with every game released on Xbox 360. While the Xbox One has the capability to play and read the discs, publishers will need to give their permission for games to work. While this means first party games like Halo and Gears of War will clearly be playable from the beginning, as will 100 other games when launched this holiday, games that recently received HD remasters may not be playable depending upon the publisher’s decision.

So in the end, was the announcement just initial joy and shock for gamers, or will it really flourish into a game changing move for the Xbox One? Or maybe somewhere in between. Let me know below if you think backwards compatibility is truly going to move Microsoft forward, or if it’s just left going….backwards?

  • Mike

    What in the world kind of story is this ? Are you seriously asking if backwards compatibility is good or bad thing. Can you guess what console I just bought today because of that announcement.

  • Thinkaboutit

    Everybody wanted it but now that its on xbox its suddenly not a big deal.

    This just shows the extreme bias of sony slaves, they applaud paying 10 dollars to rent an old game but BC is somehow a waste. Have fun with your games that come out in 4 years and btw whatever happened to the games from last years e3? Still havent heard anything about wild, rime, driveclub and the order were busts. So out of all of last years e3 announcements you got one good game. Have fun waiting for greatness noobs.

    • Mike Nitroy

      I agree that the way Sony has tried to work its way around it through PlayStation Now is not the ideal way for anyone interested in backwards compatibility. While some announcements are saved for other times than the conference, I am also wondering about some of those previously announced games as well.

  • Dr.Ghettoblaster

    It’s a brilliant move to help get still only X360 owners incentive to now upgrade to the new X1 hardware without losing access to their still current library of X360 games.

    So yeah it matters, duh. And yes, it is a brilliant move on Microsofts part.

  • mongoose1

    I’m a total Xbox freak but I don’t think BC will cause a major surge in sales and push Xbox into the lead. I do think it will make a lot of Xbox gamers extremely happy, and in response to the article, yes, some gamers do go back and replay older games time and time again. Good article and extremely debatable.

  • Steve Wright

    I don’t think that Microsoft are ‘living in the past’ because of this implementation. All they need to do now to get 360 games on One is to get publisher’s approvals. They’re not re-making all the 360 games so I think that this will barely take away from the focus of future Xbox One titles.

    • Mike Nitroy

      I guess this could just be seen as an “added bonus” to those looking to upgrade from 360 to One, it may finally be the ultimate push they need. I do believe that this is a better way than releasing more remasters and ports. It’ll just depend on how it actually plays out seeing how many games are actually playable when it happens.

  • Monkeycooties

    OK, but nostalgia is selling games & systems to people. Square Enix has a whole mobile division targeting the feels of all their dedicated fans (see the huge success of Final Fantasy Record Keepers, upcoming ports of FF VII to iOS, etc). Nintendo is pushing out N64, DS, etc. virtual games like crazy — including the release of Earthbound Beginnings. Super Mario Maker is banking on the nostalgia of classic 2D Super Mario games with a twist. What is one of the most anticipated games? The PS4’s FF VII remake. Xbox is wise to hop on the nostalgia train, even if it sells just a few systems to some happy customers. More likely, it will force an upgrade for those on the fence about purchasing the XBOX One to replace the XBOX 360.

    • Mike Nitroy

      Nostalgia is a really good point! I too agree and mentioned above that this is a great way to push people who are on the fence about upgrading – as long as the games they want will be playable. But definitely – the ability to play old things for nostalgia is a great thing to include in the argument.

Send this to a friend