Xbox Backwards Compatibility, Sales, The Future, etc.


It’s only been with relatively recent announcements that I began to notice now far Microsoft has come with the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. Eventually I had a moment where I realized it increased my chances of getting an Xbox One. If you think about it further, the strategy is also an extension of Microsoft’s unified platform strategy.

That was Microsoft’s whole plan right? To convince Xbox 360 owners to upgrade by letting them carry their libraries with them. At the time of the Xbox One’s launch a huge number of users were content playing Call of Duty Black Ops 2 on the 360, and there isn’t an Xbox One version. I just didn’t expect Microsoft to really get over 200 360 games working on the Xbox One, some of them better than on the 360. Now it has me thinking about still being able to play Bayonetta or Gears of War 3 if I got an Xbox One. If Microsoft can add Tales of Vesperia and the first Crackdown to the list it’ll have pretty much every 360 game I care about.

Beyond that though, it means people will be able to play those games on Project Scorpio and presumably any future Xbox version Microsoft puts out. It means 360 games you bought in 2006, 2007, or 2008 will still be playable on a machine you might buy in 2020. We think if Microsoft’s “blurring the lines between console generations” as starting with the Xbox One, but it’s really starting with the Xbox 360.

It really goes back to how Microsoft was able to put together a better software platform during the 360 and PS3 era. People preferred 360 versions of multiplatform games because they preferred the Xbox Live service. Now backwards compatibility might be another advantage to customers in certain situations. I don’t know how related it is, but I think September sales reports confirm the Xbox One has been the top selling console in the United States and United Kingdom for the last three months. Microsoft also already seems more prepared for the future of continuous console platforms than Sony is.

All that only really matters though if you’re already bought-in to the Xbox platform. I’m not, and I still don’t know when I will be.

My main issue with it is that PC gaming kind of already does everything I just described in terms of platform and software longevity. Microsoft is just trying to bring something similar to console users. I bought fewer than a dozen 360 games so that doesn’t affect me very much. If you already play on PC, Halo and Forza remain almost the sole reasons to get into Xbox. That’s fine if you have to have those games and it’s perfectly fine if you prefer playing all the multiplatform games on a console. I’m just saying PC is still my preference and more importantly, PlayStation still has more games that you can’t get on PC.

Sony’s advantage of Japanese 3rd party exclusives isn’t anywhere near as strong as it was during the PS2 era, but it’s remained on some level throughout the PS3 years and now into the PS4 era. That globalism is still Sony’s main advantage against Microsoft.

Sure, the PS4 pulled ahead of the Xbox One, but I’m starting to think that’s just because Microsoft ruined its marketing message early on with TV convergence and its new system of physical and digital game ownership — things customers didn’t care about. During the later stages of the last console generation the PS3 had already started to catch up with the 360 because it was doing better in places outside the US and UK — mainly Japan and continental Europe. Sony just continued that momentum into the PS4 while Microsoft stumbled. Now it looks like Microsoft is coming out of that stumble into something resembling the status quo we had circa 2010 or 2011. As mentioned above, Xbox One is only pulling ahead of PS4 in the US and UK. I think that status quo might even continue into the foreseeable future if the platform holders really do maintain the lineages of their current consoles.


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