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Backwards compatibility coming to Xbox One on 12th November

Microsoft Xbox One

Retail and digital Xbox 360 downloads will work natively with Xbox One consoles in a new update

One of the biggest surprises of Microsoft’s E3 press conference was the announcement that backwards compatibility would be coming to the Xbox One. That’s right, early adopters – all your Xbox 360 games will soon be playable on your new-generation console.

Previously, Microsoft promised that backwards compatibility would arrive by the end of the year, and now we finally have a date: 12th November. Announced by Larry Hryb (otherwise known as Major Nelson) on Twitter, he said that backwards compatibilty would be available for “all Xbox One owners” starting from the 12th, so be sure to update your console in just over two weeks time. 

This won’t include all Xbox 360 games, but Xbox One owners will be able to vote on which games will be added to the roster each month. So far, the top choices are Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Red Dead Redemption and Skyrim. The update will also bring the new Xbox One experience, which will bring the menu system and general UI up to date to match the Windows 10 Xbox app and add Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant. 

An early E3 stage demo showed Mass Effect being played on an Xbox One, natively with an Xbox One controller. The presenter then used Kinect to take a screenshot, before jumping back to the Xbox One dashboard. It works almost exactly the same way as playing a regular Xbox One game.

According to the brief announcement, developers will just need to approve their titles for inclusion in the programme – Microsoft will do all the work and activate each game ready for players to access. Apparently games saved to your Xbox account will be available as soon as the dashboard update arrives, although it’s not clear if Xbox Live Arcade games are included in that list.

An initial set of backwards compatible titles (most likely first party releases like Halo and Forza, until third party developers start adding their old games libraries to the list) will be made available to Xbox Preview members today, and eventually make its way to all Xbox One consoles in time for Christmas this year.

This is a huge step forward for the Xbox One, which has admittedly struggled with a mediocre library of games – many of the first party games at launch received middling reviews, and multi-platform games typically ran at a higher, more consistent frame rate on Sony’s rival PS4. Backwards compatibility, however, could give gamers still waiting to upgrade the nudge they needed to opt for a Microsoft console over a Sony one. We’ll update our Xbox One article as soon as we’ve had a chance to try it out for ourselves. 

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