Xbox backward compatibility has changed my expectations for game consoles

Microsoft’s focus on backward compatibility has locked me into the Xbox ecosystem in a way I didn’t expect.

One of my all-time favorite Xbox One moments was Microsoft gaming lead Phil Spencer’s on-stage reveal of Xbox backward compatibility, bringing hundreds of classic Xbox 360 and (more recently) OG Xbox games to the Xbox One era.

Through technical wizardry and doubtless hundreds of hours of hard work navigating licensing issues, Microsoft’s Xbox backward compatibility team has delivered over 500 million hours worth of gameplay to Xbox One users as of a year ago, and that figure is likely far, far higher now. Heavy hitters like Red Dead Redemption, various Call of Duty titles, and classic Xbox exclusives like Crackdown have since hit the program. Some have even gotten 4K visuals on the Xbox One X, such as Fallout 3, more closely matching their PC counterparts.

Some q’s today on back compat use. Roughly 50% of xbox one owners have played, over 508 million hrs of gaming enjoyed. #pastpresentfuture— Mike Nichols (@xboxenigma) June 7, 2017
Xbox backward compatibility (often referred to as back compat) has exceeded expectations on all fronts, especially on my part. Back compat has made such an impression on me, in fact, that it has affected the way I see both Nintendo and Sony, whose consoles offer limited, if any, backward compatibility, despite having a far, far bigger pool of classic games to draw on.