Microsoft pulled out a big announcement at this year's E3: they announced that the Xbox One will have full backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games starting this holiday season. Xbox One owners lucky enough to partake in the preview beta tests will have early access to backwards compatibility for Microsoft's home console.
During the live E3 press conference, head of Xbox Phil Spencer dropped a megaton: backwards compatibility is coming.
It seems odd that gamers would get excited about backwards compatibility, but after Sony dropped the ball with the PlayStation Now streaming service's payment model, it was an opportunity for Microsoft to swoop in and steal the show - and they have.
Not only will you be able to gain access to old Xbox 360 titles through digital download, but you'll also be able to play your old retail discs through the Xbox One. That's right, the Blu-ray won't go completely to waste only playing movies and installing games too big and too large to run natively from the drive like in the old days.
As it was mentioned on stage, Microsoft stated that “We won't charge you to play the games you already own”. Those are magic words to my ears.
Previously, gamers had begged and begged and begged Microsoft for some form of backwards compatibility. As Phil Spencer mentioned on stage during the press conference, backwards compatibility was a tough thing to accomplish given that the Xbox One runs x86 architecture and the Xbox 360 runs PowerPC.
Despite claiming how difficult backwards compatibility would be for Xbox One games running Xbox 360 games, Microsoft kept moving forward with the idea at one point teasing emulation as a solution for allowing gamers to play their old titles. However, that didn't exactly pan out.
The new backwards compatibility method wasn't really detailed very much by Microsoft and they didn't really get into the magic or the science or the method, but they did mention that it would be made easy for developers and publishers to enable backwards compatibility on the Xbox One.
The news sent a lot of gamers into a frenzy because there are a ton of Xbox 360 gamers out there who own plenty of games but are unable to play them because maybe their Xbox 360 red-ringed on them or they just didn't feel like buying a new one.
With this new feature now you can buy an Xbox One and then stock up on a ton of Xbox 360 games. I imagine that a bunch of places like eBay, GameStop and Amazon will be filled to the brim with requests for old Xbox 360 titles once the backwards compatibility officially goes live for the Xbox One.
Given that the update is set for release during the holiday season, I'm also keen to imagine that this fits in perfectly with buying habits during the almighty Black Friday shopping spree. Instead of a lot of Xbox One owners only stocking up on Xbox One games, they'll also have a reason to purchase the console for games they may have missed during the Xbox 360's tenure.