Home Gaming Microsoft details how Xbox Series X backwards compatibility will improve games with system-level HDR and increased frame rates

Microsoft details how Xbox Series X backwards compatibility will improve games with system-level HDR and increased frame rates

3 min read
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If there’s one feather in its cap that the Xbox One deserves to flaunt, it’s the strides made in terms of backwards compatibility. Seeking to establish an ecosystem of games that encompass the past, present and future, the current library of classic games from yesteryear and retro masterpieces may not be complete but it’s the focus on the best of the best from a bygone era that has made that feature so popular with fans. Plus Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance got ported over to Xbox One, so that says it all.

For the Xbox Series X, Microsoft wants to continue the strides made by the Xbox One and the 4K upgrades offered by the Xbox One X. “Not only should gamers be able to play all of these games from the past, but they should play better than ever before. Backwards compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X hardware, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU and the SSD,” Jason Ronald, Director of Program Management for Xbox Series X, explained on the Xbox Wire.

No boost mode, no downclocking, the full power of the Xbox Series X for each and every backward compatible game. This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, many times even higher performance than the games saw on their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady framerates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality.

Backwards compatible titles also see significant reductions in in-game load times from the massive leap in performance from our custom NVME SSD which powers the Xbox Velocity Architecture. As I play through my personal backlog as part of our internal testing, all of the incredible games from Xbox One and earlier play best on Xbox Series X.

According to Ronald, Microsoft didn’t just want games to be playable on the Xbox Series X: They had to be improved without hurting the base game, leading to the development of new technology that will offer modern-day features such as HDR to an optimised game, long before those visual upgrades even existed. “The team was not content to just rely on the increased hardware performance to improve your playing experience,” Ronald said.

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The team developed new platform level capabilities to ensure all of your games continue to get even better. In partnership with the Xbox Advanced Technology Group, Xbox Series X delivers a new, innovative HDR reconstruction technique which enables the platform to automatically add HDR support to games. As this technique is handled by the platform itself, it allows us to enable HDR with zero impact to the game’s performance and we can also apply it to Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles developed almost 20 years ago, well before the existence of HDR.

With all of the additional power and advancements of the Xbox Series X, the compatibility team now has a veritable playground of new capabilities to innovate and push the limits of game preservation and enhancement. The compatibility team has invented brand new techniques that enable even more titles to run at higher resolutions and image quality while still respecting the artistic intent and vision of the original creators.

We are also creating whole new classes of innovations including the ability to double the frame rate of a select set of titles from 30 fps to 60 fps or 60 fps to 120 fps.

Pure magic. While the Xbox Series X does have a number of games in development for it on launch day in addition to third-party offerings, it’s nice to know that retro enthusiasts will be catered for as well in a manner that will allow them to have one hell of a library filled with the best of the past.

Last Updated: May 28, 2020


  1. Microsoft’s strategy for backwards compatibility is way better than Sony’s approach.


  2. Pieter Kruger

    May 28, 2020 at 20:12

    Imagine what games like Gears 5, Doom Eternal, Mortal Kombat 11, DMC 5 etc. will look/play like! COD Warzone could even actually be half decent!


  3. CodeDisQus

    May 29, 2020 at 16:30

    If MS can nail the exclusive games, I will buy a XSX, unfortunately I don’t buy a new console to play older games, even if they look great…I’m here for Halo Infinite, GoW5 etc


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