In a whole list of cool announcements at Microsoft’s E3 show this summer, one of the coolest – even if it was pretty low key – was the announcement of original Xbox backwards compatibility coming to Xbox One. Since the announcement, though, we haven’t heard a thing.
The feature is still coming this year, though, Xbox box Phil Spencer says, and even implied there’s something we don’t know yet.
“I have a little dashboard I go to and I can see all the games, where they are in getting approvals in the pipeline. I know the games that are coming for the original Xbox, but I don’t think we’ve announced them all. We have to do this in partnership with partners, but we’re still on track,” he said.
Regarding the Xbox One X, he added that “there’s some stuff we’re going to talk about in that space in terms of how compatibility’s going to work [Xbox One] X specifically that I think people will find pretty interesting.”
Spencer acknowledges that games don’t always age well, but says that one of the few announced games, Crimson Skies, is “fantastic, and the game actually looks really good even though it’s obviously been around.”
There’s a lot to unpack there. Only a few games have been announced for backwards compatibility, but Spencer says he has this whole dashboard of games that he can look at. Presumably, Microsoft wouldn’t release the feature with just two games, but we still have no idea whether that number is 10, 20, or what. There was a whole host of fun games on the original system, and I have to imagine they’re looking at all of them.
Then there’s that comment about the Xbox One X. Depending on how Xbox One and Xbox 360 games are built, the Xbox One X will give those games some extra overhead to perform better regardless of whether they get high-res texture packs or patches. If original Xbox games were built with dynamic performance in mind, it’s possible we could see some of the games looking better than ever – better than they should be all previous metrics – without studios going back and prodding at 15-year-old games (which definitely isn’t happening).
It’s not clear when the feature is coming, aside from “this year,” but a big update is coming to Xbox One before the Xbox One X releases that refreshes the menu system and adds features like copying games between Xbox One consoles, so we’d expect to see it then.
The Xbox One X releases on November 7, 2017.