Reader Discussion: How Important is Backwards Compatibility to You?


Most of us were surprised when Phil Spencer confirmed backwards compatibility for the Xbox One, and with over 3 million fan votes across numerous games, it’s safe to say it’s a pretty big big deal. I know we’re pumped about it, but what about you?

Why we’re excited:

Backwards compatibility on the Xbox One allows us, as streamers and reviewers, to capture screenshots, game footage, and live stream using the built-in Twitch app. Not only does this drastically increase the amount of games available for us to stream, but allows us to create more video content without the use of third party hardware/software.

We’re hoping that backwards compatibility deters developers from falling back on remakes/remasters and allows them to focus on creating sequels to our favorite series, or new IP altogether. It seems easier for them to just give Microsoft the okay and have their game readily available to the millions of Xbox One owners than invest funds in to creating little more than a 1080p/60fps upscale.

It’ll give us the opportunity to play games we never got around to during the last console generation.

Free games! Backwards compatibility isn’t even available to the general public yet, and we’re already seeing publishers offer free copies of their Xbox 360 games when you purchase their newest release. Ubisoft is giving away Rainbow Six Vegas 1 & 2 with copies of Rainbow Six Siege. Bethesda is tossing in a copy of Fallout 3 with the purchase of Fallout 4. Square Enix is including Just Cause 2 with Just Cause 3. Even Microsoft is getting in on the action, handing out all 4 Xbox 360 Gears of War titles if you buy Gears of War: Ultimate Edition before the end of the year.

What we’re skeptical about:

Remasters are clearly profitable, or they wouldn’t exist. Them’s the breaks. With that being said, it’s to be expected that some publishers will not want their games included on the backwards compatibility list in order to avoid reduced sales for their upcoming remaster.

We’re already running out of space on our HD, and having to install 360 games in addition to all of the new stuff coming out isn’t going to help matters. Of course we can always just buy an external HD, which seems almost mandatory now.

With that being said, how important is backwards compatibility to you–whether you’re an Xbox One owner or not? If you’re on the PS4, is this something you’d like to see (without the paid subscription of PS Now)? For you non-Xbox One owners, is this at all selling point? Sound off in the comment section below and give us your two cents!


  1. I think BC is a very important feature. Probably not to the overwhelming majority of players, but certainly a sizable amount. There’s a reason why Gamestop is trying to muscle in on the retro customer base that small business game stores have been serving very well over the last 15 years. Retro is growing. Many of us old timers want to go back to our classic games several times a year. On the PC, this is less of an issue. DosBox, re releases in compatibility wrappers, all ensure that many classic games will remain playable. But on the console side, BC is becoming a big deal to a lot of people too. One of the greatest things about the Wii U is that it runs all of the old Wii stuff you have sitting in the closet. Having people over, so you want to dig out Rock Band 3, and all the plastic instruments? You still can. Got an itch to play Super Mario Galaxy? You can still fire that up. Plus that is a hardware BC built in rather than emulation. Whereas the XB1, and PS4 have to run some kind of emulator. Like the 360, did with the original Xbox, it probably means you won’t be playing quite every last gen game. But for those who never owned a 360 or a PS3 it’s still a great feature because it’s almost a decade of games you can pick up on the cheap to play on your new machine when you don’t have $60 to drop on a new release.

    Plus old games can be great in other ways. Sometimes for one reason or another a great game just doesn’t do well, but in the aftermarket can become a cult classic. Over the last several years there were a couple of noteworthy ones. Binary Domain, Madworld, Bulletstorm, Sin & Punishment Star Successor, Vanquish, are but a handful of note. Old games can still captivate new audiences. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen today’s kids, teens, and young adults discovering games they weren’t around for when the games came out. Everything from Missile Command, to Street Fighter II to Ultima to Sam & Max Hit The Road. Thanks to some great bloggers, YouTubers, writers, and fandoms, these people are getting to experience the history that those of us who grew up with the medium experienced. There’s also the fact that often times when a new game in a dormant franchise comes out to much acclaim, many fans become interested in what came before.

    So I think Backward Compatibility is a huge piece in that menagerie. I personally hope it remains one in the minds of the people designing these machines.

    1. Great response, dude. I know during the last console gen, I mainly played MMOs on my PC while only managing to dip my toes in to the extensive library of the 360, Wii, and PS3. When I found out the Wii U was backwards compatible AND upscaled the previously SD only Wii games, I went out and grabbed a ton of them.

      I grabbed a 360 at launch and within a year my original Xbox took a dump, so I was glad that I could just pop in Jet Set Radio Future and Morrowind to relive some of my all time favorites.

  2. I was keen to buy an Xbox One when it was announced. Then they said it wasn’t backwards compatible. So I held back as I have about ten-fifteen unplayed on my backlog and my enthusiasm wained. Then they didn’t release any really outstanding good games. Then I realised PS4 was probably better for my game preferences. Then I realised I didn’t need a console anyway.

    It all stemmed from lack of backwards compatibility.

  3. Backwards compatibility is an important feature to me because it lets us let go of our old console because we know we’ll have access to all of our favorite games on the new one. One of the reasons why I love the Wii U so much is because of the backwards compatibility. I do the majority of my gaming on PC though and I have no idea how much I’m going to use my Xbox when I want to play old games.

    1. Yeah, as a PC gamer I don’t think this is something that’s really drastic, especially with programs like DOSbox. Being able to unhook my Wii when I got the Wii U was awesome, and I look forward to doing the same with my 360 to free up some space on the ol’ entertainment center.

  4. Backwards compatibility was one of the issues that kept us from getting an Xbox One. However, now that we have an Xbox One and Rare Replay, I am not so keen on backwards compatibility as I was. Sure there are some games that I would like to play, but many especially the older ones from Rare Replay do not look or play well on the Xbox One. It could be that the look and play well will be dependent upon the game, but our first taste of older games on newer system has left us wondering if backwards compatibility is that big of a deal to us anymore.

    1. Sometimes it’s easy to be blinded by nostalgia. Games I loved “back in the day” just don’t stand the test of time. Control schemes, camera controls, and graphics have been vastly improved, but they’re all things we can easily take for granted.

      Rare Replay, for example, I loved Conker’s Bad Fur Day on N64, but I have NO idea how I managed to beat the game back then with inverted camera controls. Over the years I’ve just adapted to normal cameras, so trying to retrain my brain to accept inverted as standard isn’t happening at all. Rare did go in and patch Jet Force Gemini to include modern controls though, just like they did with Perfect Dark.

      Then again, these are games that are from 1998ish, not the last console generation. I fare better going back to Gears of War where the controls really haven’t changed much.

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