[UPDATE: 2016-03-21 – A up to date list of backward compatible titles is now available from Major Nelson’s site.]
One of the best (and most surprising) announcements at Microsoft’s E3-2015 presentation was that the Xbox One would soon be able to play Xbox 360 games. And not just discs; Xbox Live Arcade and Games on Demand titles will also be available to play.
In a clear shot across the bow of Sony’s PlayStation Now service it was clearly stated that the games you already own will be yours to play on the Xbox One with no additional cost.
If you are a part of the Xbox One preview program this will be available now. For everyone else, it will be available from November 12 when the New Xbox One Experience (NXOE) replaces the existing console dashboard.
Backward Compatible games, as of 2015-11-10:
•A Kingdom for Keflings
•A World of Keflings
•Alien Hominid HD
•Assassin’s Creed II
•Asteroids & Deluxe
•Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
•Bellator: MMA Onslaught
•Beyond Good & Evil HD
•Blood of the Werewolf
•Call of Juarez Gunslinger
•Centipede & Millipede
•Condemned: Criminal Origins
•Deadliest Warrior: Legends
•Defense Grid: The Awakening
•Discs of Tron
•Dungeon Siege III
•Earthworm Jim HD
•Feeding Frenzy 2: Shipwreck Showdown
•Gears of War
•Gears of War 2
•Gears of War 3
•Gears of War: Judgment
•Halo: Spartan Assault
•Joy Ride Turbo
•Just Cause 2
•Kameo: Elements of Power
•LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game
•LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
•Metal Slug 3
•Metal Slug XX
•Might & Magic Clash of Heroes
•Monday Night Combat
•Monkey Island 2: Special Edition
•Monkey Island: Special Edition
•Ms. Splosion Man
•Mutant Blobs Attack!!!
•NBA JAM: On Fire Edition
•NiGHTS into dreams…
•Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
•Pac-Man: Championship Edition
•Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX+
•Perfect Dark Zero
•Phantom Breaker:Battle Grounds
•Plants vs. Zombies
•Prince of Persia
•Rayman 3 HD
•Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co.
•Sega Vintage Collection: Golden Axe
•Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World
•Sega Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage
•Sonic The Hedgehog
•Sonic The Hedgehog 2
•Sonic The Hedgehog 3
•South Park: The Stick of Truth
•Super Meat Boy
•Supreme Commander 2
•Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas
•Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2
•Toy Soldiers: Cold War
•Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon
•Viva Piñata: Trouble In Paradise
Those games that are digital titles will become available to users via your games/apps menu on the console. Scroll to the end (right) and a list of “ready to install” games will be there. Chose to install and the download process begins.
For those with game discs, the process is much like an Xbox One game where it will need to be installed first to the hard disk before playing. The disc will need to remain in the drive for playing.
At this time, Microsoft has indicated that Kinect games will not be supported on Xbox One so if you’re keen to keep playing The Gunstringer or Kinect Party you may have to keep your 360 plugged in a little longer.
One thing that will be supported soon is DLC; though much like the games they are tied to, it will require publishers to give Microsoft permission to make that content available. For games where players have made substantial investments in DLC, such as Borderlands or Mass Effect 2, this is quite a bonus.
If you want to help vote on which titles are to be added next, you can contribute via the Xbox Feedback site.
When first running a 360 game, there’s an initial set up process (guessing it is downloading your 360 profile) that may take a few minutes but after that the process is mainly seamless. I did notice there can be a small delay in signing in to Xbox Live on your virtual 360 so when you first start a game so you may need to give it a moment to confirm sign in before jumping into any multiplayer content.
It’s great too see that not only are the games supported, but your achievements and cloud saves are pulled across too. Being able to continue games from where you left it last on 360 will go a long way to convincing players to migrate across. Please note that cloud saves and multiplayer still require an Xbox Live Gold subscription.
Backward compatibility may not appeal to everyone but for those long time 360 players who have invested in a substantial library (especially digital titles) this is a great way to keep those games in rotation. I’ve already found Geometry Wars Evolved make an appearance in my regular play again.
Microsoft have also confirmed that all Xbox 360 Games with Gold titles released from the time NXOE rolls out will be backward compatible which adds substantial value to that program and to Xbox Live Gold subscriptions.