Xbox Series X Will Launch With Advanced Backward Compatibility

This morning the Xbox Team has an interesting announcement that will make the Xbox Series X a valuable commodity this holiday season. The announcement came on Xbox Wire from Jason Ronald, Director of Program Management for Xbox Series X, as he went into the concept of preserving your gaming legacy. There's a lot to unpack, and part of what he's talking about dances around the subject. But the short version is the new console will launch with a robust backward compatibility program that will make thousands of games from the original Xbox to the Xbox 360 to the One X available to play on the console at launch. What's more, while he doesn't come right out and say it, it sounds like all of your past achievements in these games over the years will be saved when you link your existing account to the new console.

On the surface, this is a really cool announcement that players who love older titles will enjoy hearing that they can keep playing them moving forward. If you read between the lines, however, it's a swift kick to the backside of Sony, who have mentioned very little about backward compatibility when it comes to the PS5. What little we know of their version is that it does exist, but the library it will support at launch will be limited. Unless they've made a change in the past three months that no one outside SIE knows about, Xbox just got a nice feather in their cap for a sales pitch and an advantage with retro gamers and that are warry of switching from the One X. We have a few snippets from the announcement for you below about the work that was done to make this happen.

The Next Xbox Console Will Just Be Called "Xbox"
Credit: Microsoft

Maintaining compatibility presents a massive technical challenge as fundamental system and chip architectures advance across generations. Developers highly optimize their games to the unique capabilities and performance of a console to provide the best experience for their players. To make the Xbox Series X our most compatible console ever required both significant innovation in the design of the custom processor as well as the unique design of the Xbox operating system and hypervisor at the heart of our next generation platform. With more than 100,000 hours of play testing already completed, thousands of games are already playable on Xbox Series X today, from the biggest blockbusters to cult classics and fan favorites. Many of us in Team Xbox play on the Xbox Series X daily as our primary console and switching between generations is seamless. By the time we launch this holiday, the team will have spent well over 200,000 hours ensuring your game library is ready for you to jump in immediately. …

Not only should gamers be able to play all of these games from the past, but they should play better than ever before. Backwards compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X hardware, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU and the SSD. No boost mode, no down clocking, the full power of the Xbox Series X for each and every backward compatible game. This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, many times even higher performance than the games saw on their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady framerates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality. Backwards compatible titles also see significant reductions in in-game load times from the massive leap in performance from our custom NVME SSD which powers the Xbox Velocity Architecture. As I play through my personal backlog as part of our internal testing, all of the incredible games from Xbox One and earlier play best on Xbox Series X.

Credit: Xbox

Beginning with Xbox One X, the compatibility team developed brand new innovations that could be applied to a hand curated list of titles to enhance them even further than what was possible when they were first created. Techniques such as the Heutchy method, which enables titles to render with increased resolutions up to 4K, or applying anisotropic filtering to improve the final image quality bring these classic games up to modern standards, better than ever before. With all of the additional power and advancements of the Xbox Series X, the compatibility team now has a veritable playground of new capabilities to innovate and push the limits of game preservation and enhancement. The compatibility team has invented brand new techniques that enable even more titles to run at higher resolutions and image quality while still respecting the artistic intent and vision of the original creators. We are also creating whole new classes of innovations including the ability to double the frame rate of a select set of titles from 30 fps to 60 fps or 60 fps to 120 fps.

About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can't be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.

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