Microsoft’s E3 2015 Xbox Media Briefing included tons of surprises, but none were as interesting or potent as a new software feature that’s coming later this year. Soon every Xbox One console will be able to play Xbox 360 games — for free.
Available as of last week for anyone who is already a member of the Xbox Preview Program, Microsoft has added a piece of software to its Xbox One Dashboard that allows the system to effortlessly emulate the Xbox 360. Putting an Xbox 360 game into the Xbox One currently does nothing, but with the Xbox 360 support it’ll unlock a digital download version of the title for use. In effect, the Xbox One turns into an Xbox 360, letter gamers keep playing their favorite titles from the last console generation. The Xbox 360 Guide, for example, is accessible when playing an Xbox 360 game using backwards compatibility on the Xbox One. Multiplayer modes work too, and the Xbox One lets gamers record video and take screenshots from their Xbox 360 games too. Microsoft says that it created a “virtual Xbox 360” within the Xbox One just to pull off this feature. Any digital Xbox 360 games that you’ve purchased will surface in your media library at no extra charge. As part of the July Xbox One Update, the library is pretty limited. Microsoft says publishers don’t have to do any work on their part to let their Xbox 360 titles work on the Xbox One.
That being said, the company also confirmed that it’s not strong arming publishers into adding compatibility; it’s up to individual publishers to make their games available. Some may decide not to since they’re already working on remastered versions of older titles to sell to Xbox One users already. A Kingdom for Kellings, A World of Keflings, Alien Hominid HD, Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Toole, BattleBlock Theater, Defense Grid, Geometry Wars Evolved, Hexic HD, Jetpac Refueled, Kameo, Mass Effect, N+, Perfect Dark, Perfect Dark Zero, Super Meat Boy, Toy Soldiers, Toy Soldiers: Cold War, Viva Piñata, Viva Piñata: TIP and Zima are among the Xbox 360 titles available on the Xbox One now. Microsoft plans to add more before the feature arrives for everyone in the fall, according to a post on Xbox Wire.