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Xbox One Backwards Compatibility – Can you play Xbox 360 games on Xbox One?

Sam Loveridge


Xbox One backwards compatibility

Xbox One backwards compatibility – Can I play Xbox 360 games on Xbox One?

Xbox One backwards compatibility is a very popular feature, and with its growing list of available titles, it's easy to see why.. The Xbox 360 had a fantastic library of games so it's satisfying to see them running on current generation hardware.

There are currently over 200 titles on the roster, with the latest addition being one of the best entries in the Call of Duty series – Call of Duty 2. It's been a while since CoD venture back to World War 2, and with Infinite Warfare flinging us even further into the future, this is probably the best WW2 Call of Duty we're going to have available for some time. However, for those who prefer their war shooters historic, there's always Battlefield 1, which journeys even further in the past to World War 1.

Playing Xbox 360 games on Xbox One is free and simple. All you need to do is insert an Xbox 360 disc or download it directly from the online marketplace. Much like Xbox One games, everything will be installed directly to your hard drive, so make sure you have enough space.

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.

Buy Now: Xbox One at Amazon.co.uk from £224 | Amazon.com from $279

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.

See also: PS4 backwards compatibility - Can I play PS3 games on my PS4?

Xbox One Backwards Compatibility

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.

See also: PS4.5 - Everything we know so far

Xbox One

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

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 2016

Xbox One solo bundle

Xbox One backwards compatibility – When’s it coming?

Xbox One backwards compatibility is available now for all users.

Buy Now: Xbox One at Amazon.co.uk from £224 | Amazon.com from $279

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.

It's also important to remember that all Xbox 360 games available through Games with Gold from November 12 will also be playable on the Xbox One.

Here's the list so far:

  • A Kingdom for Keflings
  • A World of Keflings
  • Aegis Wing
  • Age of Booty
  • Alan Wake
  • Alan Wake’s American Nightmare
  • Alien Hominid HD
  • Altered Beast
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Assassin’s Creed II
  • Asteroids & Deluxe
  • Banjo-Kazooie
  • Banjo-Kazooie:
  • Banjo-Tooie
  • BattleBlock Theater
  • Bejeweled 2
  • Bellator: MMA Onslaught
  • Beyond Good & Evil HD
  • Bionic Commando Rearmed 2
  • Bioshock
  • Bioshock 2
  • Bioshock: Infinite
  • Blood of the Werewolf
  • BloodRayne: Betrayal
  • Borderlands
  • Braid
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • Call of Juarez Gunslinger
  • Capcom Arcade Cabinet
  • Carcassonne
  • Castle Crashers
  • CastleStorm
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
  • Centipede & Millipede
  • Comix Zone
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins
  • Counter-Strike: GO
  • Crazy Taxi
  • Crystal Defenders
  • Dark Souls
  • Dark Void
  • Dead Space
  • Deadliest Warrior: Legends
  • Defense Grid: The Awakening
  • DiRT 3
  • DiRT Showdown
  • Discs of Tron Arcade
  • Domino Master
  • Doom Arcade
  • DOOM 3 BFG Edition (only available on disc)
  • Doom II
  • Doritos Crash Course
  • Double Dragon Neon Arcade
  • Ducktales Remastered
  • Duke Nukem Manhattan Project
  • Dungeon Siege III
  • Earthworm Jim HD
  • Fable II
  • Fable III
  • Fallout 3
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Feeding Frenzy
  • Feeding Frenzy 2: Shipwreck Showdown
  • Fret Nice
  • Frogger
  • Frogger 2
  • Galaga
  • Galaga Legions DX
  • Garou: Mark of the Wolves
  • Gears of War
  • Gears of War 2
  • Gears of War 3
  • Gears of War: Judgment
  • Geometry Wars Evolved
  • Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime
  • Golden Axe
  • GRID 2
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Halo Wars
  • Halo: Reach
  • Halo: Spartan Assault
  • Hardwood Backgammon
  • Hardwood Hearts
  • Hardwood Spades
  • Heavy Weapon
  • Hexic HD
  • Hexic 2
  • Hydro Thunder
  • Ikaruga
  • Iron Brigade
  • Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad
  • Jet Set Radio
  • Jetpac Refuelled
  • Joy Ride Turbo
  • Just Cause 2
  • Kameo: Elements of Power
  • Kane & Lynch 2
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • LEGO Batman
  • LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
  • Lode Runner
  • Magic The Gathering 2012
  • Mass Effect
  • Metal Slug 3
  • Metal Slug XX
  • Might & Magic Clash of Heroes
  • Mirror’s Edge
  • Missile Command
  • Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine
  • Monday Night Combat
  • Monkey Island 2: Special Edition
  • Monkey Island: Special Edition
  • Motocross Madness
  • Ms. Splosion Man
  • Mutant Blobs Attack!!!
  • MX vs. ATV Reflex
  • N+
  • NBA JAM: On Fire Edition
  • Neo-Geo Battle Colisuem
  • NiGHTS into dreams…
  • Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
  • Outland
  • Pac-Man: Championship Edition
  • Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX+
  • Pac-Man Museum
  • Peggle
  • Perfect Dark
  • Perfect Dark Zero
  • Phantasy Star II
  • Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds
  • Pinball FX
  • Plants vs. Zombies
  • Portal: Still Alive
  • Putty Squad
  • Puzzlegeddon
  • R-Type Dimensions
  • Rayman 3 HD
  • Rayman Origins
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Runner 2: Legend of Rhythm Alien
  • R-Type Dimensions
  • Sacred 3
  • Sacred Citadel
  • Saints Row IV
  • Samurai Showdown 2
  • Sam & Max Save the World
  • Sam & Max Beyond Time & Space
  • Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co.
  • Sega Vintage Collection: Golden Axe
  • Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World
  • Sega Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage
  • Shadow Complex
  • Skate 3
  • Skullgirls
  • Small Arms
  • Sonic CD
  • Sonic and Knuckles
  • Sonic the Fighters
  • Sonic The Hedgehog
  • Sonic The Hedgehog 2
  • Sonic The Hedgehog 3
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episodes 1 & 2
  • Soul Calibur II HD
  • Soulcalibur
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth
  • Space Giraffe
  • Spelunky
  • Splosion Man
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
  • Super Meat Boy
  • Supreme Commander 2
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2
  • Texas Hold ‘Em
  • The Cave
  • The King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
  • Ticket to Ride Arcade
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2
  • Torchlight
  • Toy Soldiers
  • Toy Soldiers: Cold War
  • Trials HD
  • Tron: Evolution
  • Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon
  • Unbound Saga
  • Viva Piñata
  • Viva Piñata: Trouble In Paradise
  • Wolfenstein 3D
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • Zuma
  • Zuma’s Revenge!
No doubt those numbers will continue to grow as developers and Microsoft work together to get the entire Xbox 360 catalogue supported.

Xbox 360 games

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

Xbox One Kinect

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.

See also: Xbox One Elite Controller vs Regular Wireless Controller

xbox one controller

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.

Related: Best Xbox One Deals

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.


November 20, 2013, 6:26 am

This is such a non article, we all know this is the case. Why are tech site trying to bash both consoles so much? They are what they are, if people want them then we'll but them.


November 20, 2013, 9:23 am

Morning all, If you have to buy the games again on the Genkai service, then you may have a feather in your cap, but you will look like a silly billy. I think Sony should just leave it alone, most people already have a PS3 and if they are that bothered about the games, just keep it, put it in the cupboard next to the SNES and PS2 and whip it out when you want to feel nostalgia.


November 20, 2013, 11:26 am

How about just using the HDMI in port and plugging your 360 in to the Xbox One? I'm not sure if this will work but it seems like it would be a better solution than streaming it.


November 20, 2013, 12:10 pm

If you were going to go down that route then you might as well just plug your 360 in to the TV? I know it means you have to use a different controller but that isn't really a problem is it?


November 20, 2013, 12:30 pm

Not at all, and that would work too. I'm not at all sure there's a BC issue - as you say, just play 360 games through a 360. It would be a 'nice to have' thing that, in all likelihood, I'd never use. But, I suppose that's not to say that there could be a lot of people out there who would want this feature? Maybe there's a poll out there.


November 20, 2013, 2:41 pm

I do know what you mean - I was talking to my colleagues about this at lunch as we were discussing which console we'd go for. I'm going to wait for the comparison reviews first and see what comes of it.

Due to the lack of backwards compatibility I am not tied to a particular ecosystem any more so I might very well switch to the PS4 if it is better (I'd prefer to stay with xbox but it depends on what your friends do as well doesn't it).


November 21, 2013, 5:30 am

This is a pretty weak article, in my opinion. The initial question seems to be trolling for attention, because it's been known for MONTHS that backwards compatibility was not happening. However, it's not really fair to just blame it on a CPU architecture switch. The original Xbox wasn't PowerPC, but they did the work to offer software emulation on the 360, allowing for original Xbox games (over 300 of them, if I remember correctly) to play just fine on the 360.

I'm hoping that Microsoft offers a GaiKai-like solution long-term, but I'm not expecting it. I'm ultimately fine using the HDMI pass-through, if I keep my 360 after I (eventually) get an Xbox One.


November 21, 2013, 7:31 am

You may have know for months but we've been asked the question a lot so wrote an article about it to clarify. If you knew the answer why bother reading the article? How is the title trolling? The content refers exactly to the title.

Yes the Xbox 360 used emulation - i mention that as a way of getting 360 games to work on the Xbone.

Microsoft has categorically stated it will not look at at a GaiKai-like solution, but you never know if there will be a u-turn.


November 23, 2013, 7:06 pm

You'll also have to put up with the input lag. As you say plugging it straight into the TV would be the better solution.


November 23, 2013, 7:09 pm

You may know it is the case but many do not. We've been asked it many times. How is this a bashing article? I explain that while we won't get backwards compatibility we will get other benefits.


November 30, 2013, 9:18 am

Evan. Great article. Don't mind the negative comments. You are unfortunately dealing with the real trolls.


November 30, 2013, 5:45 pm

I have to admit: After years and years of collecting and playing games, it pisses me off that Microsoft doesn't allow me to play the games I've grown to love on 360. The not allowing me to use my old controllers also pisses me off. I'll probably end up spending 800+ of the money I don't have on a console I'm not pumped up to get. Anyways, great article.


November 30, 2013, 11:56 pm

I could swear I heard them say it would be backward compatible when I first heard about the Xbox One. I guess I missed this part somehow, because this would have be the definitive "NO" when my daughter asked for Xbox One. And now we go through the long drawn out process of getting it hooked up and ready, only to find she cannot play any of her games, even ones we just bought in the last couple months. And Skyrim was her favorite, now... nothing. Thanks Microsoft. Thank you for showing how little you care about your customers.


December 1, 2013, 12:26 am

This is a good article, it is informative and objective.
Might eventually pickup an Xbox One for multiplayer gaming and Kinect experience,
you really can't beat it! As of now planning to move to PC for most of my
gaming. A Hyper-V solution is possible to allow platform compatibility for 360
games on the Xbox One. Do not believe for a second that Microsoft’s move to the Xbox
One and decision to not support 360 games is not purely profit driven, as well
as keeping up with Sony. Fan of Microsoft and their products, none of this is a
surprise. It is understandable why people that have invested in years of 360 games
are upset at the decision. As long as everyone is rushing out to buy the new
Xbox One console, there is little incentive for Microsoft to offer up backwards

Jayna Fey

December 3, 2013, 2:11 pm

I'm confused - when you say xbox 360 used emulation for backwards compatibility did that come standard? I don't remember experiencing any issues playing orig xbox games on 360 (still have a soft spot for Halo 2).

Considering Microsoft has already pulled a huge u-turn in terms of planning Xbox one, I'm hoping this is the case with backwards compatibility.

I think one of the larger issues that you don't address is digital rights management - what about the games I've purchased the digital rights to on my 360? Part of the idea behind this was the "roaming 360," which seems like it will be totally lost between platforms if Microsoft pursues the current course. I would feel really silly (not to mentioned peeved) shelling out $60 for a game I've already purchased the rights to for 360 and played successfully for a while. Does Microsoft really expect me to buy Skyrim, Dragon Born, and Dawnguard twice? Not to mention other DLC, season passes, etc.

In regards to your delving into an explanation about the decision to go x86 from PPC, it's interesting and does give some background information as to why we won't be able to do certain things - does it really matter? How does the information affect the average gamer or person liable to buy an Xbone?

The short answer is, it doesn't. This is the kind of decision that Microsoft should concern itself with, not its customers. The short answer is (and most likely will be for a lot of people) "I don't care what kind of processor it is, I just want it to work well and be able to play all of my games."

Just give the people what they want, y'all.

Additionally, it looks like some complicated work arounds are already popping up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Jayna Fey

December 3, 2013, 2:14 pm

It looks like people are working towards that http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...


December 17, 2013, 4:01 am

This sucks because if you have just beaten Battle Field Bad Co. (Or any other game.) then you would have to start the whole game over or you would not be able to get it because they don't sell it any more for the XBOX ONE this is what I think is stupid

Guava Machine

December 24, 2013, 6:46 pm

this sux… i asked the dude @ wal-mart & he sed they where, so i now have to go bring bak all the games i bawt my son for xmas + trade up the old 1s…. this is total BS…. im @ the point that i want to bring the xbox1 bak cawz is it really wth it


December 26, 2013, 7:34 pm

Basically they are saying it will be too hard for them to bring something good to the customers that have been so loyal to them. So instead of working on emulating a backward compatibility program because they say it would be to costly they decide to not do it to save money on our part. How does buying every game again save us money? Looking to see a lot of angry customers in the future, starting with myself......selling my xbox 360


December 30, 2013, 5:49 pm

I cant believe i cant play xbox games on my xbox one.feckin crap. I should never have bought xbox one .very annoyed gamer.


January 6, 2014, 5:31 am

can the new xbox one games work in the xbox 360 console?


February 24, 2014, 12:27 pm

Hindsight is really 20/20, it is February 24th, Xbox One sales are dismal. My Xbox 360 is conveniently being un-able to read more and more of my game disks and I can't trade it in for a new Xbox one without losing all my Xbox 360 games... My Xbox 360 is less than 2 years old.
I've already purchased a PS4, and I refuse to buy a Xbox One, because I refuse to get stuck with a piece of machinery and all of the games that come with it, because Microsoft decided that it WOULD cut costs by offering up cheaper chips that will run Windows 8 to make it easier for game developers.
While using the same disk reader that plagued people by giving them unreadable disk errors.

The author of this article wants to try and claim that MS didn't do this to make money for their Crones, but then goes on to say that the PPC is better architecture and that MS cut corners directly to benefit their wallets and developers... NOT GAMERS!

Which is precisely why MS Xbox One is DOOMED and WAS doomed from the beginning.


March 27, 2014, 1:39 am

We'll Microsoft just f**ked us in the ass with the xbox one why would they do this when we have been buying there games and spent lots of money on the 360 xbox one and don't forget all the games. WOW


May 19, 2014, 11:53 pm

how they fucked you up? The author explained the problematic reasons for making backwards compatibility. I'm sure they working on it but gotta make work first. Don't jump the gun. Xbox one is a new system, not an upgraded one.


May 19, 2014, 11:55 pm

they said that about MS for years.

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