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Xbox One's Backwards Compatibility Is Not Ignored, Exec Says

"It's not true that people don't play it."


One of the Xbox One's standout features is backwards compatibility support for Xbox 360 games. There are more than 400 titles in the catalog right now, and the library is seemingly always growing. Microsoft is committed to backwards compatibility now and in the long run, Xbox boss Phil Spencer told GameSpot at the Brazil Game Show today.

In June, there was a report that said Xbox One owners "largely ignore" the backwards compatibility feature. Microsoft responded by pointing out that around half of all Xbox One owners have used the feature, tallying some 508 million hours using the service. Spencer doubled down on this, saying it's categorically untrue that it's an ignored feature.

"It's not true that people don't play it. I've seen those online arguments about nobody uses it or everybody uses it. It's not true that everybody plays backwards compatibility games, it's not true that no one does," he said. "A lot of the data is third party data so I can't really tell you how many people are playing a certain game; it's not my game. I think the best signal we had so far is when Black Ops II landed and that month it hit NPD's Top 10 that month for game sales. An Xbox 360 game that's years old, that shows that people care."

The Xbox One is the only new-generation console that has true backwards compatibility support. The PlayStation 4, by comparison, requires users to re-purchase older games to play on the system through PlayStation Now and the PS2 Classics program.

"We continue to invest in back-compat because it matters. Not because somebody else [Sony] doesn't have it. If somebody else did it tomorrow, we wouldn't stop. We see it as a commitment to our customers that the games you buy from us [will work on new platforms]."

In addition to Xbox 360 games, the backwards compatibility lineup will add support for Original Xbox games before the end of the year. Microsoft is "really close" to launching this, Spencer told us, also teasing some news about support on Xbox One X.

Also in our interview, Spencer spoke about how he wants to move beyond the old way of thinking that when you buy a new console, your purchases for the older device are rendered useless. That's part of the reason why backwards compatibility is so important to Microsoft.

"I want to give gamers a choice. It's about growing gaming not being divisive and artificially trying to move you ahead. That's why Xbox One X plays the same games Xbox One S does. PC has done this for years. It's not rocket science in how you figure this out."

For more on our conversation with Spencer, check out the stories linked below or our full Q&A with the Xbox boss.

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