Microsoft just dropped a bombshell at its big E3 2015 press conference: the Xbox One will soon be able to play Xbox 360 games.
Xbox One backward compatibility might not sound like a big deal—why would you want to play old games on a new console?—but for Xbox One owners with a stack of old Xbox 360 games still lying around, it’s a welcome new feature that players have been asking for since the Xbox One was announced in 2013.
Xbox Head Phil Spencer said at the conference that Xbox 360 games will work on Xbox One natively with Xbox Live—they’ll play exactly like they do on Xbox 360, but with next-gen features like the ability to snap screenshots with your voice and Kinect. Not every Xbox 360 game will suddenly be playable on Xbox One, as developers and publishers will need to OK each game individually, but it sounds like that’s the only barrier.
Best of all, accessing the Xbox 360 games you already own on Xbox One will be free—“We won’t charge you for games you already own,” Spencer said. Digital games you own will just pop up in your library; for other titles, you’ll need to pop in the disc and download a digital version of the game.
That sounds great, though the “free” bit is slightly dubious. The mention of Xbox Live support suggests backward compatibility will be free so long as you pay $60 a year for an Xbox Live subscription, but we don’t know that for sure yet. Microsoft says backward compatibility goes out to all players in Holiday 2015.
This is a big win for Microsoft fans, though it is kind of sad that some of the biggest news about the newest generation of consoles is that we can play last generation’s games.