Opinion: Xbox Head Explains Why Xbox ONE Isn’t Backwards Compatible

Xbox Head Explains Why Xbox ONE Isn't Backwards Compatible

Xbox Division head Don Mattrick told The Wall Street Journal that the Xbox ONE not featuring backwards compatibility isn’t anything to worry about.  He mentioned that only 5% of gamers play past generation games on new consoles and that it wouldn’t be worth the effort to make the current/new consoles able to play older titles. On that subject he ended with “If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards.”

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What Mattrick said pretty much lets you know why only 5%—that number just doesn’t seem right—of gamers play older games on a new console. If you’re not putting in the ability to do so of course you’re going to have a small amount playing. In Microsoft’s case, they only made a few titles able to run on the 360 before releasing some on XBLA. It should also be considered that the Xbox wasn’t that hot when it came to titles. It certainly was no PlayStation 2.

With the PS2, Sony allowed backwards compatibility and the original PlayStation had a very good library of games—especially if you enjoyed RPGs. With the PS3, that was taken out on some versions of the consoles, but digital versions of PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games were made available. With Nintendo, backwards compatibility came standard with their portables. The GameBoy Color could play GameBoy titles, the original GameBoy Advance could play GBC titles, the original Nintendo DS could play GBA titles, and the Nintendo 3DS can play DS titles. Backwards compatibility didn’t kick in for their home consoles until the Wii which could play GameCube titles. The Wii U is able to play Wii titles.

Simply put, backwards compatibility should be standard at least with the previous generation of games.

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Did you buy digital games and save them to Xbox 360 hard drive? Are you stoked to play those games on the Xbox ONE? Well too bad, the Xbox ONE is unable to support Xbox Live Arcade titles. It’s bad enough you can’t sell the game when you’re done, but the very least, the console could be backwards compatible digitally. What this means is that as much of a bother as it will be, it’s probably best to hold on to your Xbox 360.

Yes, you’re going to have to get some sort of adapter or power strip, plug both Xboxes, get some sort of AV cable splitter, plug those up, and play your consoles while they sit next to you looking at you and each other.

Option B is to unplug and connect stuff when you want to play it and option C is to “stop living in the past” and just play the Xbox ONE. Plus—mostly—it has a huge entertainment element! You can watch TV and Kinect and Xbox ONE will help!

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Backwards compatibility gives a new console to have some “umph” to them while players wait for more games to roll in. The immediate launch roster for new consoles are usually very thin as you have a bunch of sports titles, some racing game, maybe a AAA title, some ports, and a few toss up titles that will be forgotten about two or three years in. That said, this is just looking worse and worse for the Xbox ONE. While it’s guaranteed it will have great games, the system itself just comes off as anti-gamer. It begs several questions, but most importantly:

“We bought $60+ games, some bought new Xbox 360 when suspect craftsmanship caused them to red light and die, some in that same group even paid for Microsoft to fix them, some purchased digital games at prices that should be lower since we’re not getting the artwork of a store release, and we pay to play online multiplayer—something that should be standard if you have 1. The console, 2. The game, and 3. Internet service. Microsoft, what have we done to you that has angered you so? Is it that we mostly didn’t care for Windows 8? What is it?”

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On the bright side of all of this, Wii U is backwards compatible—but the library of truly great games are mostly first party—and Sony is working to allow for PS3 games to be playable on the PS4. So one and a half out of three isn’t bad.


Starting with Kabir News in 2013, James has focused on tech, gaming, and entertainment. When not writing, he enjoys catching up on sci-fi and horror shows and comics. He can be followed on Twitter @MetalSwift.

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