Microsoft surprised a lot of people back at E3 in June when the company announced that it would patching in backwards compatibility to the Xbox One. This isn’t traditional backwards compatibility, of course, the system wasn’t designed for that.
Instead it’s emulation. Place an Xbox 360 disc in your Xbox One and the game will download from the internet. You’ll still need the disc in the drive, of course, to prove you actually own the title.
If you bought the game online in the first place, it’ll just appear in your games list on the Xbox One for download. One crucial point for this new feature is that the games have to be OK’d by their publishers for release as backwards compatible, so if a publisher has plans for a remaster of some sort there’s a good chance they might not allow it to be backwards compatible for fear of cannibalising potential future sales.
In any case, we have a release date for this new feature. Backwards compatibility will roll out to Xbox One alongside a much needed user interface overhaul on November 12, 2015. There will be around 100 backwards compatible titles on day one and the UI update is hoping to clean up the absolute mess that is the Xbox One dashboard, a slow and clunky layout that is both difficult and confusing to navigate.
Dubbed the “New Xbox One Experience” the update aims to readjust the layout to be more controller friendly. Remember, the Xbox One dashboard was originally designed to function with the Xbox Kinect, which has since been removed from most skews after Microsoft realized that very few people wanted it.
The update comes in a pretty great holiday season for Xbox users, with the traditional range of multi-platform games as well as a sterling first-party line-up including Halo 5: Guardians and Forza Motorsport 5 as well as timed exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider. Microsoft has done a fantastic job recovering from the face plant that was the Xbox One’s reveal and launch, and while it may never catch up to the PlayStation 4 in terms of sales, it’s done pretty well for itself in terms of mindshare.