Microsoft Details Xbox Series X | S Backwards Compatibility

Microsoft gave details on what gamers can expect with backwards compatibility on the upcoming Xbox Series X | S, touting that the next generation consoles “will be the best place to play [thousands] of games from across four generations of Xbox.”

“As gamers, we know how important it is to preserve and respect your gaming legacy. We believe your favorite games and franchises, your progression and achievements, your Xbox One gaming accessories and the friendships and communities you create through gaming should all move with you across generations,” Peggy Lo, Compatibility Program Lead at Xbox, wrote in a blog post. “We also fundamentally believe that not only should you be able to play all of your games from the past without needing to purchase them again, but they should also look, feel and play better on the next generation of Xbox consoles. Preserving and improving the thousands of games you know and love, or have yet to discover, has been a core objective since the beginning of the backward compatibility program in 2015, and with years of learnings and successes – and over 500,000 hours of gameplay testing across four generations of Xbox in the last year alone getting ready for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S – we couldn’t be more proud of the results you will be able to experience beginning November 10.”

On the Xbox Series X | S, backwards compatible games will run natively on the new consoles utilizing the full power of the CPU, GPU and SSD, with no boost mode and no downclocking.

“This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, with significantly higher performance than their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady framerates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality. Backward compatible titles also benefit from significant reductions in load times due to the massive leap in performance from our custom NVME SSD at the heart of the Xbox Velocity Architecture,” Lo wrote.

All backwards compatible games will be enhanced with Auto HDR (high dynamic range) despite many titles releasing before the implementation of high dynamic range, which gives games an added richness and depth of color.

Xbox Series X HDR

“Beyond the improvements all backward compatible games will see due to increased hardware performance, our team of backward compatibility engineers continue to innovate and push the limits of game preservation and enhancement to make your current game library look and play even better, at no additional cost and with no work from developers while still respecting the artistic intent and vision of the original creators,” Lo said.

Microsoft is utilizing new technology to double the framerates on some backwards compatible games, leveraging the increased CPU, GPU and memory in the new consoles.

“While not applicable for many titles due to the game’s original physics or animations, these new techniques the team has developed can push game engines to render more quickly for a buttery smooth experience beyond what the original game might have delivered due to the capabilities of the hardware,” Lo said.

Microsoft is also enhancing a list of titles for the Xbox Series X | S via the Heutchy method, which allows titles rendered originally in 360p and 720p to play at 4K on Xbox Series X and to 1440p on the Series S. Many titles will also see improved texture filtering.

Lo said that playing backwards compatible games is as easy as inserting your favorite original Xbox or Xbox 360 game into your Series X | S and the digital download for the game will be ready to go.

“If you’ve already installed your games to an external drive, you can bring that with you to the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. This all happens with no additional cost to you. And, with cloud saves, you’ll jump right back in where you left off. For those of you still enjoying Xbox 360, cloud saves will soon be free to all Xbox 360 users, making transferring your favorite games to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S even easier,” Lo wrote.