In a surprise move, Microsoft announced during its E3 conference on Monday that the retail and digital library of the Xbox 360 will be playable on the Xbox One.
More than 100 Xbox 360 games can be played on Xbox One this holiday season through backwards compatibility, with several hundreds more coming later on, according to Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox division.
This list includes some of the currently supported games, like Perfect Dark Zero (2005), Kameo (2005), Viva Pinata (2006), Mass Effect (2007), and downloadable Xbox Live Arcade games like Hexic HD (2006) and Super Meat Boy (2010). Backwards compatibility on Xbox One is available to try today only for Xbox Preview members.
Xbox 360 digital games are automatically added to the Xbox One library. Xbox 360 retail games work by inserting the disc into the console and downloading a digital version of the game to the Xbox One. The disc still needs to be kept in the Xbox One to continue playing the game.
Xbox One owners will be able to play online multiplayer and co-op through Xbox Live with Xbox 360 owners playing the same game.
When playing Xbox 360 games, Xbox One features can also be used, like taking screenshots, gameplay broadcasting, game DVR recording, Kinect voice commands and streaming with Windows 10.
Microsoft showed Mass Effect playing during the conference, with a demonstration of taking a screenshot using the Kinect voice command feature.
“With Xbox One backwards compatibility, we won’t charge you to play the games you already own,” Mike Ybarra, head of platform engineering, said during the reveal.
PlayStation 4 has no backwards compatibility, with PlayStation 3 disc-based and digital games unable to be played on the console. Sony has the PlayStation Now streaming service on PS4 for PS3 games, with a monthly subscription for $19.99 or varied prices for renting individual titles. The Nintendo Wii U can play Wii disc-based games.
Publishers and developers need to approve of Xbox 360 games to be supported on Xbox One, meaning the console might not have complete backwards compatibility with the entire Xbox 360 library.
This backwards compatibility update for Xbox One is a change from the company’s previous position on the feature for the console. “If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards,” Don Mattrick, former head of the Xbox division, said in 2013 leading up to the launch of the Xbox One.
Two free Xbox 360 games, Rainbow Six: Vegas (2006) and Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (2008), will come packaged with Rainbow Six Siege, which is out on Oct. 13. Fallout 3 (2008) will also be bundled with Fallout 4 exclusively on Xbox One when it releases on Nov. 10.
The Xbox 360 launched in November 2005 and continues to see new game releases.