Xbox One backwards compatibility – How to play Xbox 360 games on Xbox One
Backwards compatibility is an incredibly popular feature on Microsoft's console, with a growing list of titles well worth checking out. The Xbox 360 had a wonderful library of games, and it's awesome to see them running our our shiny new Xbox Ones.
Phil Spencer recently tweeted that Xbox One now supports over 300 Xbox 360 games, with nearly 50 percent of users taking advantage of the feature.
Playing Xbox 360 titles on Xbox One is free and simple All you need to do is insert a Xbox 360 disc into your system or download it directly from the online marketplace. Much like Xbox One games, everything is installed straight to your hard drive, so make sure you've got enough space.
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All of the digital downloads linked to your account will be available straight away, so long as the game is supported by Microsoft. Your achievements, cloud saves and whatnot also carry over.
If you're an Xbox Live Gold member, many of the games found in Microsoft's Games with Gold service are backwards compatible, giving you a handful of new games to play around with each and every month.
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It’s interesting to note that the PS4 is still not backwards compatible, with Sony instead throwing its eggs into the Playstation Now service basket. This lets you rent PS3 titles and stream them to your PS4 along with select Sony Bravia Smart TVs and Sony Blu-ray players. But, this comes at a cost. Two-day rentals on PlayStation Now start at £2.99, with the majority of high-profile titles actually costing a steep £4.99 to rent for two-days going up to £7.99 for a 30-day rental period.
Xbox One backwards compatibility – How does it work?
“One of the features that we’ve had a lot of requests for — and very vocals requests for — is the ability to run Xbox 360 apps on Xbox One, which is quite difficult to do,” explained Microsoft’s Product Evangelist for Windows 10, Ian Moulster. “It is easy to conceptualise, but actually quite difficult to achieve.”
To turn the Xbox One into a backwards compatible machine, Microsoft has built an Xbox 360 emulator that will run on the new console. This basically means that Microsoft has essentially built an Xbox 360 in software, which then runs within the Xbox One. This emulator does all the same things as the Xbox 360, but it just sits inside the newer console.
The emulator springs into life when you insert a compatible Xbox 360 disc and lets you download and install the title right to your HDD. You’ll notice that any Xbox 360 game you have installed on your Xbox One will be shown with an Xbox 360 logo strip down the left hand side, so you can quickly distinguish between your old and new games at a glance.
As you had to with the Xbox 360, you’ll need to keep the game disc in the tray while you play, but you won’t need to be connected to the internet unless you want to access any of the game’s online components.
We’ve tried it with Mass Effect and all you need to do is insert the disc and wait for it to boot up. Then you’re ready to play.
If you’ve previously purchased any compatible Xbox 360 titles from the Store, these will automatically show up in the right-hand panel of your “My Games” section of your Xbox One, where it lists games that are “Ready to Install”.
You can then pick and choose which games out of your Xbox 360 collection you wish to install on your Xbox One — after all you might not have space for all of them.
We tried out Super Meat Boy in this way, and again, all you need to do is download it and you’re off.
What’s great about the Xbox One backwards compatibility service is that even though it’s running your Xbox 360 games within an emulator, you can still take advantage of the Xbox One features while you play. That includes Game DVR, the ability to snap an application to your game and broadcast your gameplay.
Well, we say that, but the recent announcement that Borderlands is one of the games coming to the Xbox One backwards compatibility service was surrounded by some concern.
While we were certainly delighted we could play our old Borderlands game on the Xbox One, it quickly came to light that the game's backwards compatibility is limited. You can't utilise all the Xbox One features when you play Borderlands it seems, with screenshots and gameplay capture inaccessible.
"This is expected. Unfortunately, recording/screenshots are turned off for Borderlands," explained a Microsoft representative.
When pressed for more details, Microsoft said that this was down to a "licensing" issue.
This could well be an issue that you'll find with future Xbox One backwards compatible titles, but it's defintiely something we can put up with for the ease of use with the upcoming service.
Backwards Compatibility and multi-disc games
Xbox's Major Nelson recently confirmed in a Reddit post that Xbox One's backwards compatibility now works for games with multiple discs.
"I can confirm that the BC [backwards compatibility] team has done work to support multi disc scenarios. Be sure to thank the BC engineers," Major Nelson wrote.
So now it seems the possibilities are truly endless when it comes to backwards compatibility on Xbox One. For those looking for a bit of nostalgia amongst all their new and shiny gaming goodness, we could be seeing plenty more available.
Xbox One backwards compatibility – How much does it cost?
Unlike Playstation’s Now streaming service, which charges for all games even if you previously owned them, this Xbox 360 emulation on Xbox One will be completely free for all supported games. That’s definitely a nice touch.
“It is free. You don’t have to pay for the emulator. You don’t have to pay again for the games or anything. They’re your games. It just works,” added Moulster.
See also: Upcoming Xbox One Games 2017
Xbox One backwards compatibility – When’s it coming?
Xbox One backwards compatibility is available now for all users.
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Xbox One backwards compatibility – What games are supported?
Xbox One currently has over 200 games supported via backwards compatibility. We've provided the full list of them below, or you can head to Xbox.com/BackCompat to keep abreast of any additions Microsoft makes.
Here's the list so far:
A Kingdom for Keflings
A World of Keflings
Age of Booty
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare
Alice: Madness Returns
Alien Hominid HD
Anomaly Warzone Earth
Assassin's Creed II
Asteroids & Deluxe
Banjo Kazooie: N n B
Battlefield: Bad Co. 2
Bellator: MMA Onslaught
Beyond Good & Evil HD
Bionic Commando Rearmed 2
Blood of the Werewolf
Boom Boom Rocket
Bound by Flame
Bully: Scholarship Ed
Call of Duty® 2
Call of Duty® 3
Call of Duty®: Black Ops
Call of Duty®: World at War
Call of Juarez® Gunslinger
CAPCOM ARCADE CABINET
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
Centipede & Millipede
de Blob 2
Dead Space™ Ignition
Deadliest Warrior: Legends
DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION
Discs of Tron
DOOM 3 BFG Edition
Doritos Crash Course
Double Dragon Neon
Dragon Age: Origins
Duck Tales: Remastered
Duke Nukem Manhattan Project
Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
Dungeon Siege III
Earthworm Jim HD
Escape Dead Island
Faery: Legends of Avalon
Fallout: New Vegas
Far Cry 3® Blood Dragon
Feeding Frenzy 2
Final Fight: Double Impact
Galaga Legions DX
GAROU -MARK OF THE WOLV
Gears of War
Gears of War 2
Gears of War 3
Gears of War: Judgment
Geometry Wars Evolved
Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime
Go! Go! Break Steady
Guardian Heroes (TM)
HALF-MINUTE HERO -Super Mega Neo-
Halo: Spartan Assault
I am Alive™
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad
Jet Set Radio
Joe Danger Special Edition
Joe Danger 2: The Movie
Joy Ride Turbo
Just Cause 2
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
Killer Is Dead
Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead 2
LEGO Indiana Jones
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game
LEGO Star Wars: TCS
Mars: War Logs
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 3
Medal of Honor: Airborne
MEGA MAN 9
MEGA MAN 10
Metal Slug 3
Metal Slug XX
Midway Arcade Origins
Might & Magic Clash of Heroes
Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine
Monday Night Combat
Monkey Island: SE
Monkey Island 2: SE
Mr. DRILLER Online
Ms. Splosion Man
Mutant Blobs Attack
Mutant Storm Empire
MX vs. ATV Reflex
NEOGEO BATTLE COLISEUM
NBA JAM: On Fire Edition
NiGHTS into dream…
OF: Dragon Rising
Operation Flashpoint: Red River
Of Orcs and Men
PAC-MAN CE DX+
Perfect Dark Zero
Phantasy Star II
Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds
Planets Under Attack
Plants vs. Zombies
Portal: Still Alive
Prince of Persia
Puzzle Quest 2
Puzzle Quest Galactrix
Rainbow Six® Vegas
Rainbow Six® Vegas 2
Rayman 3 HD
Red Dead Redemption
Red Faction: Battlegrounds
Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
Saints Row IV
Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space
Sam & Max Save the World
Samurai Shodown II
SEGA Bass Fishing
Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co.
Sega Vintage Collection: Golden Axe
Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World
Sega Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage
Shadows of the Damned
Silent Hill: Downpour
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Sonic & Knuckles
Sonic the Fighters
Sonic The Hedgehog
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Sonic The Hedgehog 3
Sonic The Hedgehog™ 4 Episode I
Sonic The Hedgehog™ 4 Episode II
SoulCalibur II HD
South Park™: The Stick of Truth™
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
Super Meat Boy
Supreme Commander 2
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
The King of Fighters 98
The Orange Box
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Ticket to Ride
Tour de France 2009
Tour de France
Toy Soldiers Cold War
Toy Story 3
Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon
Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise
XCOM®: Enemy Unknown
XCOM®: Enemy Within
No doubt those numbers will continue to grow as developers and Microsoft work together to get the entire Xbox 360 catalogue supported.
All the developers need to do is to approve Microsoft's access and then Microsoft itself does a bit of work to make it compatible. And, so far, developers have been keen to get on board.
“Certainly no-one has said no, and you can understand why. I mean why wouldn’t you. The choice of which games we pick are based on how popular the game is, what ratings it’s got and what the fans vote for,” explained Moulster.
The only restrictions to the full Xbox 360 games catalogue being ported over is peripherals. Sadly, you won’t ever be able to play Xbox 360 Kinect games on the Xbox One, because you can’t connect your old Kinect to the new machine. And the new Kinect isn’t compatible with the older titles due to its advanced technology.
General performance with backwards compatible games has proven to be quite divisive. Some games are a notable improvement over Xbox 360, while others fail to maintain a solid framerate due to the emulation. With any luck this will improve over time as Microsoft refines and updates the feature.
Also, the same can be said for games like Guitar Hero or Rock Band due to the same hardware issues.
See also: Xbox One vs Xbox 360
Why wasn’t the Xbox One initially backwards compatible?
The Xbox One is fundamentally different to the Xbox 360. It uses a x86-64 processor architecture processor, just like most current PCs and laptops, as opposed to the Xbox 360’s PowerPC (PPC) chip. Why did Microsoft choose to shift to this architecture? The reasons are simple – it wanted to keep costs low and make game developers' lives easier.
It’s arguable that the PowerPC architecture is better than the x86 one – it’s newer for a start, PPC was created by Motorola, IBM and Apple to compete with Intel in the 90s. However since then the PPC architecture has lost favour, primarily because it was a lot cheaper to manufacture x86 processors. This is down to scale – practically every PC and laptop uses one. There's more to it though. AMD and Intel aggressively invested in the technology and advanced x86 at a faster rate than the PPC backers could cope with. In the end even Apple dumped PPC in 2006 and switched to Intel x86 processors for their iMac and Macbook ranges.
More power at a lower cost means a cheaper console to produce. Some of those savings are even passed onto the consumer. Win-win, sort of.
The second aspect is, perhaps, more interesting. Having the same x86 architecture as the PC means that games can be ported much more easily from the Xbox One to PC, and vice-versa. This means less complexity, shorter development times and fewer dodgy ports – the bane of many a gamer. In addition the PS4 also uses a very similar x86 AMD Jaguar processor, which will further help developers when creating cross-platform games.
Xbox One backwards compatibility – Can I use my Xbox 360 controller?
The Xbox 360 controller won’t work with the new Xbox One. That means that you will need to purchase extra controllers for same screen multiplayer action.
An Xbox One controller with with play and charge kit will set you back £59.99 or £44.99 for it without the extra battery. In the US that's $75 and $60 respectively. Microsoft has also just announced a rather fantastic looking ‘Elite’ controller. This lets you customise your game with replaceable triggers, a new stainless steel d-pad and a host of other improvements. It’s available now for £129.99. Yes, that much.
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Xbox One backwards compatibility – Can I use my Xbox 360 Kinect?
Once again the answer is no, but it’s less of a problem than the controller incompatibility. Some Xbox One bundles still come bundled with the new Kinect but you can also pick them up separately.