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Xbox Series X backwards compatibility is aiming to create a gaming legacy across multiple generations

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Xbox Series X

A console is only as good as its games and when you’re launching something new into the market the goods on offer are usually of the slim pickings variety. Take the Xbox One. Microsoft’s console launched with plenty of third-party support and a few exclusives such as Ryse: Son of Rome and Forza Motorsport 5 back in the day. Not bad games, but hardly enough for players who thirsted for more and had to be patient until some better stuff could arrive a couple of weeks and months after launch.

There’s always going to be that period of boredom, set between the lull of a console launch after the hype dies down and before studios start rolling out properly good games for a device. It’s a fact of life that Microsoft wants to avoid with the Xbox Series X (or just plain ol’ Xbox for short), using a more simple solution: Backwards compatibility.

Out of the box, the newest Xbox is said to be backwards compatible across all three generations of gaming from Team Green as Xboss Phil Spencer explained that being able to play old games on bleeding edge hardware was a major priority for the console team. “We wanted to make sure we had that, day one, we could deliver on the compatibility promise, and so I’ve been playing quite a few [Xbox 360] games on my [Xbox Series X] and Xbox One games on the [Xbox Series X] and that’s just to ensure that we can be there day one,” Spencer said to GameSpot.

The question is, just how much of the older Xbox library will be backwards compatible? On the Xbox One, that feature was eventually implemented but with the caveat of it only being up and running for a select number of games. A hefty number make no mistake, but hardly the entire Xbox 360 library on Xbox One. Cycle in the original Xbox games from the early 2000s, and there’s a fair chunk of legacy to dip into of what’s available. “We have thousands of games that run on Xbox One today,” Xbox partner director of program management Jason Ronald said to GameSpot.

We want those games to be able to come forward with you but we also want your services to come with you. We want your gaming legacy to come with you, whether that’s your Gamerscore, whether that’s your friends list, all your Achievements, your game saves, all of that should come forward so there are no barriers for you as you think about moving forward.

One of the biggest challenges is console games are usually hyper-optimized to the unique hardware capabilities of the device, and this is a new generation of hardware. It is a new chip architecture. At the same time, we did design the silicon with [backwards] compatibility in mind, so we did make certain decisions to try to lessen that work, but I don’t want to trivialize how much work the team’s actually doing because there is a tremendous amount of work.

Basically, there’s going to be a lot of software for your fancy new hardware. As you’ve probably already guessed, I can’t wait to drop the equivalent of several salaries on the console and install Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance as my first playable game on the next-gen device. TRUE CONSOLE GAMING YO!

Last Updated: December 18, 2019

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