After writing a stern argument for backwards compatibility, and then resigning to the idea that it may never happen, Phil Spencer dropped the bombshell in E3 that the Xbox One would be backwards compatible with the Xbox 360. I have to admit, I was completely stoked yelling out “FINALLY!” Now I have an excuse to get rid of my Xbox 360… or do I?
Spencer did say that roughly a hundred Xbox 360 games will be playable for the Xbox One for the holidays while only twenty one are currently part of the Preview Program. The only way that number will increase if there is a huge demand, via Survey, for certain games such as Red Dead Redemption, etc. The reason why not all Xbox 360 games will be available for the Xbox One is because Microsoft has to acquire the digital rights from their respective developers and publishers. Also, Xbox 360 Kinect games, as well as any other game requiring a peripheral, will not be playable for the Xbox One. So the answer to that question is…
Not so fast.
As much as I would like to have less clutter by getting rid of my Xbox 360 games, again, not all games will be playable on the Xbox One. As matter of fact, what about the Xbox Originals such as KOTOR, The Punisher, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, Capcom vs. SNK 2, etc. as well as making them playable on Xbox Live?
I think what Phil Spencer should do is reintroduce the original Xbox games (as well as the Xbox 360 ones) in Virtual Console-style state: No HD, but make them playable on Xbox Live if needed (such as fighting games). That would really get on the good graces of Xbox fans.
But even so, the fact that the Xbox One will not be able to play all Xbox 360 games, even the ones that “no one plays” is precisely why I give Nintendo credit for making the Wii U hardware completely backwards compatible with the original Wii games. In fact, I wish it went was far as the GameCube, but I digress.
I still consider this an important step because we cannot expect new gamers to buy aging hardware, like the Xbox 360, and at the same time expect them to invest it like the Xbox One.
I really do hope, however, that the backwards compatibility program works this time because the last time it happened, it encountered some problems, but I also don’t think Microsoft should’ve stopped trying either. In the age of HD Remasters, I hope this signals the end of that trend so we can go back to the games that we love without restrictions and clutter.
What do you think? Do you believe the return of backwards compatibility is a great idea or do you think it’s just a pipe dream and that we should just stick with what we have?