Is Xbox One Backwards Compatible?

View all advice guides


Xbox One plays 300+ Xbox 360 games through emulation with great performance, and Microsoft continues to make more games backwards compatible.

Xbox 360 was one incredible console, with a ton of brilliant games that are still worth players’ time. So it’s a good thing Xbox One now plays a wide selection of Xbox 360 titles.

Want to know which Xbox 360 games are backwards-compatible on Xbox One, and how it all works? Here’s our guide.

What’s the story with Xbox One backwards compatibility (BC)?

Xbox One is backwards-compatible with lots of Xbox 360 games now, but it hasn’t always been. And the method it uses to play past-gen games is pretty unconventional. So how did we get here?

Hardware v software: When a console is backwards-compatible, the feature is usually built into the system. For example, Nintendo Wii U can play any Wii game disc. The original PS2 could play most PS1 game discs. And the 3DS handheld can play any DS game cartridge. In these cases, BC is part of the hardware, not the system software.

BC announcement at E3 2015: That’s not how it works with Xbox One though. When Xbox One launched in November 2013, it had no backwards-compatibility. Then, at Microsoft’s E3 2015 conference, it was announced that Xbox One would become backwards-compatible with selected Xbox 360 games through software emulation.

Launch in November 2015: Xbox One BC launched via a system software update in November 2015. 104 Xbox 360 games

Xbox One plays Xbox 360 games through emulation

Xbox One uses an emulator for backwards compatibility. An emulator is a program that enables a computer system to mimic another target system, so it can run the target system’s software.

Selected games only: However, because Xbox 360 is a complex system, the emulator is not reliable enough to run every game with acceptable performance. Microsoft has therefore only made selected Xbox 360 games available for use with Xbox One. The Xbox 360 games made available have been individually optimised for best performance.

Download required: Xbox 360 games cannot run directly from a game disc on Xbox One. When you insert a compatible Xbox 360 game disc in an Xbox One, the console downloads a special version of the game optimised for Xbox One. The disc must remain in the system while you play.

Over 300 past-gen games now work with Xbox One

104 Xbox 360 games were available when Xbox One BC launched in November 2015. Since then Microsoft has added many more, taking the total to over 300.

Compatible games include:

  • BioShock 1, 2 and Infinite
  • Blue Dragon
  • Call of Duty 2, 3 and Black Ops
  • Dark Souls
  • Gears of War 1, 2, 3, and Judgment
  • Halo: Reach and Halo Wars
  • Left 4 Dead 1 and 2
  • Portal 2
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Many top Xbox Live Arcade games

You can record and stream Xbox 360 gameplay on Xbox One

Xbox 360 games played on Xbox One can access some of the newer console’s features. For example, you can record and broadcast gameplay online, and use in-home streaming to Windows 10 PCs and devices.

You can also use Xbox Live features like online multiplayer and party chat.

Most Xbox 360 games perform the same or better on Xbox One

A Digital Foundry analysis in September 2016 found most backwards-compatible Xbox 360 perform the same or better on Xbox One. Red Dead Redemption and Mirror’s Edge are “significantly improved”, Call of Duty 2 is “massively improved”, and Forza Horizon is “flawless for most”.

Xbox One is not compatible with original Xbox games

Up to December 2016, Xbox One was not backwards-compatible with original Xbox games such as Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Panzer Dragoon Orta, or Fable.

Leave a Reply

Please to comment
Notify of