Just in case you were unaware after all the hype surrounding the Sony conference, Microsoft dropped a few bombs of their own. The biggest was surely Phil Spencer’s announcement that the Xbox One would be backward compatible starting this holiday season. Let that sink in for a moment, they just made their console backward compatible because they could. Players will not only be able to use their digital games, but physical discs will work as well, showcased with a brief playthrough of the original Mass Effect live on the stage. That’s a pretty big deal, especially when Sony’s answer to backward compatibility is a potentially costly streaming option.
Of course, the major reason for this is to bring over 360 holdouts who want a new console, but just don’t see enough current-gen games they find appealing. They all know they are coming, so now Microsoft is making it easier to make the jump without having to still keep two consoles hooked up to your TV to play all the games you own (assuming you live exclusively within the Xbox ecosystem). Back in the early days of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, backward compatibility was a driving force with the two manufacturers telling player to revisit their favorite games from yesteryear while waiting for the new games to start rolling out.
Of course, there is no reason not to be excited about the new feature coming to the Xbox One, but its addition may not be quite the game changer it seemed to be at the moment of announcement. First and foremost, it is unlikely that the vast majority of Xbox One owners will ever use the feature. Had this feature been added closer to launch, then surely we’d see a large number of people taking advantage of the feature, but at this point with the number of high quality games released for the current generation consoles, few people will have the time to go back and play 360 games when their Xbox One backlog seems to be growing weekly. Sure, going back to do a Gears trilogy run before Gears 4 next year will probably be on my list of things to play, but aside from that circumstance I don’t see much reason to go back when a series like Halo (the games that matter anyway), is now prominently featured on Xbox One.
That isn’t to say the feature is of no value, but it just seems like more of a marketing ploy at this point. With Xbox One sales, until recently, lagging behind Sony, it just seems like Microsoft needed some buzz about the console itself. They know Halo will push units, they know Gears will push units, but they needed something to put on the box in between those releases.backward compatibility was a way to do that while making a statement and giving fans a useful, if late, requested feature. While backward compatibility will be the feature everyone talks about, it will be the improvements to the dashboard and increased first party support that truly turn into sales, but nothing generates buzz like a little controversy. Clearly Microsoft remembers E3 2013, and this was a huge opportunity to fight fire with fire.
Now, it would be unfair not to mention some of the really exciting features of the backward compatibility announcement, such as the fact that all Xbox One features work with Xbox 360 games. You can take screenshots and video clips just as you would with your Xbox One games, play with your 360 friends online, and even stream them to your Windows 10 PC. Anyone who does take advantage of the Xbox One later feature will not be restricted by it as many have been and still are on other platforms. It was even recently confirmed that Xbox 360 games streamed to a PC will be Oculus Rift compatible. Whatever their reason for doing it, Microsoft has at the very least shown that they are all-in on backward compatibility.
So what games do you hope to play when the feature rolls out to everyone starting this holiday? Let us know in the comments and, as always, keep it here on ThoseGamingNerds.