During the Microsoft E3 Keynote, Microsoft dropped the news that the Xbox One console will now be backwards compatible with every single Xbox 360 game. This opens the console's library to hundreds of new titles, which will begin arriving for digital download over the next few months.
The announcement drew plenty of applause from those in attendance, especially with the news that on-disc games can be imported to the console at no additional cost. The move seems to confirm the rumors of a new Xbox One edition that features a larger hard-drive, as importing plenty of Xbox 360 games is sure to consume a lot of space on the original 500 gigabyte drives that came bundled with the first wave of consoles.
The 360 games will also be able to take advantage of Xbox One features like DVR, screenshots and live broadcasting. The live broadcast scene has received a strong backing from console-based fans, and the latest announcement is sure to bring thousands of new streams up as gamers begin accessing the legacy content. As one of the Xbox One platform engineers demonstrated on the stage, the old games perform exactly the same as Xbox One as they did on the 360.
An initial set of backwards compatible games are available today for Xbox Preview members, with the full slate of features set to become publicly available this holiday season. Xbox head Phil Spencer also revealed that any digital 360 titles gamers had previously purchased will show up immediately in their Xbox One games library, making them instantly downloadable the next time gamers turn on their console. The other titles will simply show up in the Marketplace. Spencer had promised an exceptional year for Xbox gamers, and he got things off to a great start with this bit of fan-service. It was an ambitious statement, and he backed it up with another bold statement during the keynote today:
Our goal is to deliver the largest games catalog ever on Xbox.
Disc-based games will be installed straight to the console as opposed to running from the disc itself, so gamers will have to be wary of their remaining disc-space if they plan on importing their existing libraries. Backwards compatibility was a huge issue when next generation consoles first stepped up to the plate, and it's great to see Microsoft is keeping Xbox 360 consumers in mind even years after the Xbox One came to market. It's a smart move, which may push 360 owners who were on-the-fence about the Xbox One into confirmed buyers.
Microsoft had mentioned bringing more Xbox 360 gamers to Xbox One just weeks ago, though it's now apparent they were being coy about the surprise announcement.