Xbox to X360

Backward Compatibility Analysis and Frequently Asked Questions

Note: This article is about playing original (2001) Xbox games on Xbox 360. For info on playing Xbox 360 games on Xbox One, we have a full FAQ here and a list of compatible games here.

Ever since launch, the backward compatibility of the Xbox 360 has been under scrutiny for not working well enough and not having enough games that worked. Let's take a look at some of the criticisms.

"I Sold My Xbox to Pay For The 360"

If you sold your Xbox to buy an Xbox 360, you are a foolish fool.

Selling old systems to buy the new generation is never a good idea. I sold and re-bought an NES, SNES (x2), and N64 in the past and won't make that mistake again. Playing games on their original platform is always, always, always better than relying on BC or other means.

"I Thought I Could Play My Xbox Games on 360"

I still play PS1 games on my PS1 system simply because it works better (9 times out of ten my PS1 games freeze when playing on PS2 ...). The 360 is the exact same way. A lot of the games on the BC list don't work 100% and the differences in the controller between the Xbox and 360 are enough to make me a heck of a lot more comfortable playing Xbox games on my Xbox. Sure, the Xbox games definitely do look pretty on the 360, but I'll take playability and stability over graphics any day.

"Microsoft Lied to Us"

What gets me is that people are insisting that Microsoft has lied to us and broken promises and what not.

I have to disagree with that. Microsoft has never said that all games would be BC. From the E3 2005 statement that "Best-selling Xbox titles would be included" up until now, no one has ever said that all or even most Xbox games would work. Some people admitted (not in official statements, mind you) that 100% backward compatibility is the high water mark but in the same breath, they remind us that BC is more difficult than we think.

Gamers need to realize that BC is a lot harder on Xbox 360 than it has been on other consoles (PS2, for example) because it uses software emulation rather than hardware emulation. Each individual game has to have special coding to work properly and that takes a lot of time. When you consider that the hardware is vastly different from the Xbox to the Xbox 360 and the fact that many Xbox games used very specialized techniques to squeeze every drop of performance out of the Xbox as possible, emulation on the 360 becomes very tricky.

"There Are No Good BC Games Anyway"

I beg to differ on this one. People that complain that there aren't any good Xbox games compatible with the 360 are just in denial. I have the full list of backward compatible games right here and it looks pretty good to me. I highlighted my personal picks in bold and there are more than 50 games I consider to be good to great. Depending on your personal preference, you can probably find even more. If you can't find good games on that list you simply aren't looking hard enough.

The Bottom Line

The point of this rant is to try and put the outrage that is spreading across the internet concerning backward compatibility into perspective.

If you paid $400 just to play Xbox games on your 360 that is no one's fault but your own. And if you really can't find any good Xbox 360 games to play and actually spend more time playing BC games, then perhaps the 360 isn't the system for you. Trade it in at GameStop/EB (as I have seen many forum posters claim they were going to do) and they'll be happy to sell it to someone that actually wants it about 15 minutes after you leave the store.

The Xbox 360 was made to play Xbox 360 games first and foremost and that is what we should be worried about. BC is a nice feature to have, but it isn't vital.