Why Xbox One BC Is Largely Failing

The Xbox One backward compatibility program is failing based on the Ars Technica report most likely because of the abundance of remasters, newer games and the problem of replay value. All three of these reasons likely eclipse any desire for gamers to truly want to play the exact version of last generation's greatest games.

Why Xbox One BC Is Largely Failing
Ars Technica's shocking report on Xbox One backward compatibility recently made the runs online to universal surprise. Briefly put, the analysis randomly sampled usage data from about 1 million active Xbox One Gamertags during a five month period. It was discovered that Xbox One users only spent 1.5 percent of usage time actually playing Xbox 360 backward compatible games. Ars Technica's chart as seen below paints a very interesting picture that can help to measure whether the much-hyped Xbox One backward compatibility program was really successful or not. As seen below, it appears that the much requested feature is not used all that much at the end.

Why Xbox One BC Is Largely Failing-Pie Chart

The report got me thinking quite a bit as to why such a convenient feature is in such a low demand these days. Before anyone says that a report that was randomized and only included about 1 million users can't be trusted, I want to state that only opposing facts can now dispell this very plausible reality. The first attempt to discredit this report came from the Corporate VP of Xbox, Mike Ybarra himself. He failed to demonstrate the contrary, however, when he only stated,

Scraping some data off servers gives an inaccurate view of what people do.

Far from turning the tables, the weak statement from Ybarra only suggests that Ars Technica may be on the right track. All the Microsoft executive had to do was provide some brief data that could prove the contrary and show that backward compatibility is a feature that is in fact, heavily used. The fact that he did not give such data, suggests that the backward compatibility effort was not as rewarding to Microsoft and their investors as much as they all probably hoped it would. This report raises, in turn, a lot of questions as I admit that backward compatibility is one of the most desired features for all consoles and it goes way back. Many in the PlayStation camp would love to see some comparable backward compatibility on the PS4 in fact. So let's explore why the backward compatibility initiative on Xbox One is largely failing. Three main reasons will follow. Remasters, newer games and the problem of replay value.

Why Xbox One BC Is Largely Failing-Remasters 

That's right, remasters. Most people that want to play older games do so in the case that they no longer owned the previously released console where those games were originally available. In the process of upgrading, budget gamers often will trade in or sell their old consoles and games in order to get some income or trade to use toward the hottest new hardware. Sometimes, remorse kicks-in soon after and thus, such gamers long to get back some of their old games with the idea of playing them on their current generation console. The gaming market seems to have been very aware of such gamer needs and responded with remastered re-releases of some of last generation's greatest games. That, in turn, puts the gamer under the influence of remorse to ponder whether buying an improved version of a game he longs for is worth it or if waiting for an eventual backward compatibility is better.  

Why Xbox One BC Is Largely Failing-Collections
Well, by the time that Microsoft's long-awaited Xbox One backward compatibility with Xbox 360 games launched on November 12, 2015, many of the greatest games from that generation were already available for purchase in superior versions. Old Xbox 360 titles and other even older ones in compilations such as The Halo: Master Chief Collection, Rare Replay, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto V, and many others were released on Xbox One with their best-looking and best performing versions yet. Many additional collections and remasters were known to becoming as well in the vein of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Bioshock: The Collection or Batman: Return to Arkham. The better graphic resolution, frame rate and occasional added content for these remasters might have enticed those gamers, looking to play games from the past, to get these improved versions instead. After all, it looks like power and performance is all the rage if we are to measure that based on the tremendous hype for the Xbox Scorpio.

It makes one wonder whether backward compatibility would still be requested if the best games from the previous generation were re-released on this current one. That largely happened in fact, as the list of games I just provided are to date available for the Xbox One without needing to buy their old Xbox 360 versions. They also happen to be pretty much the best exclusives and third party games that released for Microsoft's platform last generation. It also doesn't help that Microsoft's consoles tend to have very few exclusives per generation and that the majority of the most popular ones already got ported to the Xbox One. There are some omissions of course, but are gamers waiting for those to get re-released perhaps? What could explain why backward compatibility is getting such a low amount of usage?

Why Xbox One BC Is Largely Failing-Current Games

The second reason is that gamers largely want to play new games. Take a franchise such as Call of Duty, Fifa, or Forza. It's hard to conceive one to be very eager to go back to older games in those franchises. The market seems to be showing that gamers instead would rather play the latest installment. This is also true for any game that is released. With the first month or two amounting to the majority of such game's total lifetime sales. Gamers always have plenty to play and look forward to and thus older games are mostly forgotten. I even dare to say that it is easier for an old game to sell through a remastered version because it gets a fresh new wave of exposure and advertisement than the actual old version that is thrown into a list of backward compatible games with which it has to compete. 

Why Xbox One BC Is Largely Failing-Old Games
In addition, gamers sometimes get tired of certain franchises as seen by decreasing sales for the latest installments from Halo, Gears and Forza when compared to their last generation's various entries' performance. So there comes a point when gamers just seem to be wanting to look forward to the future for new experiences. Some games from the past also get into serious trouble value wise if they feel outdated thanks to the newer entries. That makes looking for older games a much less desirable prospect. Finally, there is also the issue of replay value and all gamers probably have quite a list of games that they enjoyed but would never really replay. How many Xbox 360 games are there that actually have a high degree of replay value and did not yet get an Xbox One remastered release? That is another question to ask.

Why Xbox One BC Is Largely Failing-Replay Value
In conclusion, The Xbox One backward compatibility program is failing based on the Ars Technica report most likely because of the abundance of remasters, newer games and the problem of replay value. All three of these reasons likely eclipse any desire for gamers to truly want to play the exact version of last generation's greatest games. Any true fan of a specific game would love to buy a definitive version of that same game if released. That is because a remastered often will give your favorite game the best look yet, best performance, occasionally all previously released DLC and even additional new features. That all may be worth the new price tag even if a little big more pricey. Furthermore, The majority of the best Xbox 360 games are currently already on Xbox One with some fine looking remasters or collections.

Then, with a never ending stream of game reveals and exciting new IPs, it is also very hard to keep excitement levels high for old games. After all, one needs to justify the purchase of new hardware by making the most of what's new and hot. Finally, there is the problem of replay value. In general, most old games quickly get outdated by the newest ones in gameplay mechanics and such. Those that have put this to the test like myself have learned this the hard way sometimes. That in itself, may be a further reason for why gamers might prefer a remaster over paying less for an old game. At least the new version looks and plays better.

I'm not stating here that backward compatibility is useless and should be removed at all. I don't doubt that some Xbox users are enjoying it. However, it is very clear and likely that as a whole it is a feature that is barely used and with the consequence that Microsoft executives may not be able to justify it in the future. As it stands, the Xbox One backward compatibility is largely a failure and did not help the Xbox close any distances with its strongest competition either.

As always, please share your thoughts below. I believe that the current developments may shape the feature of backward compatibility greatly.

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Despite all the name calling and insults, some of you fail to understand that we ALL want BC. For every game, for every console. We want it. Even Microsoft says is the most requested feature, and I know Sony acknowledged it too at some point. Nintendo doesn’t say much, but for their portables, they’ve always implemented it, so they must know the value of it too.     But the reality is the reality:     WiiU implemented BC out of the box, and was the worst-selling Nintendo console in history.   Xbox1 implemented BC eventually, and is lagging far… Read more »

Xbox dude

It’s still great to be able to play my old games without paying for them again. Thanks Microsoft. And can’t wait for Scorpio!!

Ponies are scumbags

STFU you jackass go feed you Bs to the gullible idiots you fools have been exposed now STFU

Barry Harden

Backward compatibility? You’re in for a rude awakening.



1. Not every game will work well with XBone’s virtual xbox360 emulator. They’ve already seen this problem in the preview.



2. Only some games are compatible right now and majority belong to Micro$oft. Try getting the other publishers to give permission for this. Newsflash: Most will want some kind of monetary compensation for this. It’ll be interesting to see how Micro$oft responds.



3. You’re gonna pray BC works out cause clearly Micro$oft is throwing in the towel for this war as the XBone clearly can’t compete with the PS4 in performance.

Xbox guy

Most of the games are not all Microsoft games first of all. And BC won’t cost money, ever. I’m sure developers are happy their old games can still be purchased and played.As for PlayStation being the best, enjoy it now because once Scorpio is out your Japanese Crap will be second best. Until then keep giving five dollar rimjobs for 2.50 you Sony pony asslicker.


I disagree, BC is great! Thanks MS!


this guy is an idiot, because the official MS stance discredits ARS flawed sample…which has been discredited two times now, revealing about 50% use BC…. but because they dont give details…you take ARS as being true…. hmm game companies rarely confirm statistics, hell they barely report digital sales….so this whole pathetic article is based on an assumption…im not even a XBOX fan, but i can see BS when i see it.


I think BC on Xbox1 is more complicated than it needs to be. I’m also pretty sure some Xbox1 owners aren’t even aware of it.



But like you said, and others have said, there are plenty of reasons why BC seems to be used so little. 3DS and PS2 BC use would better indicate how relevant it is. Maybe even Wii and WiiU could give us a better picture. But oh well, those are not tracked so easily, eh?


All in all a well written article that brings up a very good point regarding remasters vs back compat.


To be devils advocate I’ll add some small points to the conversation. The first being that I do not believe that the graph adequately represents the amount of time spent on BC games. As pointed out on twitter here https://twitter.com/xboxenigma/status/872571508358496256 508 million hours and 50% user usage is quite a bit. That is not to say I think BC is some sort of new amazing thing. BC is much needed and not for usage but for the reasonable expectation of all gamers that they can buy a game once and they get to continue playing it for future generations. Like… Read more »

Stephen M Morin

Very cool article. I always felt Nintendo and Sony have a back catalogue that is far better for backwards compatibility. However, a lot of that is nostalgia or playing a game I missed but have wanted to play. How often can busy people return to old.games they have played to death?

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