Xbox Series X and Series S Backwards Compatibility: Are Older Games Compatible?

The list is fairly comprehensive

What to Know

  • Choose the Xbox game from the Xbox Series X or S's dashboard or insert the disc into the Xbox Series X console.
  • Most Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games are compatible with the Xbox Series X or S.

This article explains how to play Xbox 360, Xbox One, and original Xbox games on Xbox Series X or S.

How To Play an Original Xbox, Xbox 360 or Xbox One Game on Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S

The vast majority of Xbox games are compatible with the Xbox Series X and S. Playing an Original Xbox, Xbox 360 or Xbox One game on your Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S is almost as simple as playing a new game on the system.

Here's how to do it.

  1. Insert the older game disc.

    This step can be skipped if you own the game digitally.

  2. Choose the game from the dashboard's My Games menu.

  3. Begin playing the game. 

What Is Xbox Series X or S Backwards Compatibility? 

Xbox Series X/S backwards compatibility refers to the latest games console's ability to play older games from the Xbox back catalog. This includes games from the Original Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. 

If you're wondering will Xbox Series X be backwards compatible, you're in luck with both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S offering extensive backwards compatibility between them and past consoles. In the past, Microsoft implemented some backwards compatibility with its previous consoles but this time around, it's the most advanced form of backwards compatibility we've seen from the company.

A man and his son sitting on a sofa playing a game while concentrating deeply
Tom Werner, Getty Images

Will Xbox Series X/S Play Older Xbox Games?

In a word, yes! The Xbox Series X and S play the vast majority of your older Xbox games. That includes games from the original Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, encompassing four generations of games since the first console's launch in 2001. 

Previously, the Xbox One offered some backwards compatibility for older games but the Xbox Series X and S aims to simplify the process even further. 

For all Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games that you own digitally and have purchased in the past, they're available on your Xbox Series X or S once you log into your Microsoft account. 

Alternatively, if you have an Xbox Series X, you can also use physical game discs by placing them in the console like an Xbox Series X or S game and 'claiming' the game to download digitally. 

The Xbox Series S can't play physical games due to it not having a disc drive.

Are Older Xbox Games Different on Xbox Series X or S?

Microsoft has stated that many games will be enhanced for Xbox Series X and S. While no details have been offered as to specific games that have been enhanced, we do know that generally, the benefits will be connected to loading times and visual quality.

The majority of games will enjoy reduced loading times along with faster frame rates so the game looks smoother. Many games will also have HDR added to them which means the games will look visually much more impressive than before. These enhancements will be most noticeable for Xbox Series X owners with Xbox Series S owners seeing more modest improvements.

They will also all benefit from the Quick Resume feature which means that you can drop in and out of multiple different games without having to wait for them to individually reload on your console.

What Games Will Play on the Xbox Series X or S?

Microsoft aims to make all Xbox One games that do not require Kinect to play on Xbox Series X at launch, with the assumption being that this will also apply to the Xbox Series S. 

Kinect based games won't work on the system as there's no Kinect unit for the Xbox Series X and S.

For Xbox and Xbox 360 games, over 600 are already available with more to be added over the coming months. Microsoft has released an Xbox One backward compatible games list which is regularly updated.

Does Xbox Game Pass Include Backwards Compatible Games? 

Yes. Microsoft is keen to encourage Xbox Game Pass memberships and many backward compatible games are available through the service for Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One games. Almost all games on the service should work on both Xbox Series X and S.