Xbox Series X backward compatible with “thousands of games” at launch

"Backwards compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X hardware."

Gears 5

Xbox Series X will be compatible with “thousands of games” from across the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Xbox libraries at launch, Xbox Series X director of program management Jason Ronald detailed in an Xbox Wire post.

“Backwards compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X hardware, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU, and the SSD,” Ronald said. “No boost mode, no downclocking, the full power of the Xbox Series X for each and every backward compatible game.

“This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, many times even higher performance than the games saw on their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady frame rates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality. Backwards compatible titles also see significant reductions in in-game load times from the massive leap in performance from our custom NVME SSD which powers the Xbox Velocity Architecture.”

Xbox Series X also features a new high-dynamic-range imaging reconstruction technique, which enables the platform to automatically add HDR support to games.

Ronald continued, “With all of the additional power and advancements of the Xbox Series X, the compatibility team now has a veritable playground of new capabilities to innovate and push the limits of game preservation and enhancement. The compatibility team has invented brand new techniques that enable even more titles to run at higher resolutions and image quality while still respecting the artistic intent and vision of the original creators. We are also creating whole new classes of innovations including the ability to double the frame rate of a select set of titles from 30 frames per second to 60 frames per second or 60 frames per second to 120 frames per second.”

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Preserving Your Gaming Legacy

As gamers, we also know how important it is to preserve and respect our gaming legacies. Your favorite games and franchises, your progression and achievements, and the friendships and communities you create through gaming should all move with you across generations. Not only that, your favorite gaming accessories and peripherals should also move forward with you as well.

Our goal has always been to empower gamers to play the best versions of games from across four generations of Xbox at the launch of Xbox Series X. These principles were key to us from Day 1 and influenced many of our design decisions as we started on our journey to create our most powerful and compatible console ever.

Compatibility Journey

Our compatibility journey began with the announcement of Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility coming to Xbox One at E3 2015. I clearly remember that first magical experience of jumping into one of my favorite Xbox 360 games, Final Fantasy XIII, and instantly resuming where I had left off years before as if no time had passed at all. I was instantly transported back to that special time and all the great memories and personal connections I have made through gaming. The energy and passion from the community continues to motivate us to this day.

Through a tremendous amount of hard work, technical innovation, and partnership with the industry’s leading creators we were not only able to bring more than 500 Xbox 360 games to Xbox One, we were able to go back even further into the archives and resurrect some of your favorite franchises from the original Xbox. The very same team who created new innovative ways to preserve and enhance your existing catalog of games on Xbox One is the same team pushing the envelope again with Xbox Series X.

Maintaining compatibility presents a massive technical challenge as fundamental system and chip architectures advance across generations. Developers highly optimize their games to the unique capabilities and performance of a console to provide the best experience for their players. To make the Xbox Series X our most compatible console ever required both significant innovation in the design of the custom processor as well as the unique design of the Xbox operating system and hypervisor at the heart of our next generation platform.

With more than 100,000 hours of play testing already completed, thousands of games are already playable on Xbox Series X today, from the biggest blockbusters to cult classics and fan favorites. Many of us in Team Xbox play on the Xbox Series X daily as our primary console and switching between generations is seamless. By the time we launch this holiday, the team will have spent well over 200,000 hours ensuring your game library is ready for you to jump in immediately.

All Games Play Better on Xbox Series X

Not only should gamers be able to play all of these games from the past, but they should play better than ever before. Backwards compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X hardware, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU, and the SSD. No boost mode, no downclocking, the full power of the Xbox Series X for each and every backward compatible game. This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, many times even higher performance than the games saw on their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady frame rates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality. Backwards compatible titles also see significant reductions in in-game load times from the massive leap in performance from our custom NVME SSD which powers the Xbox Velocity Architecture. As I play through my personal backlog as part of our internal testing, all of the incredible games from Xbox One and earlier play best on Xbox Series X.

The team was not content to just rely on the increased hardware performance to improve your playing experience. The team developed new platform level capabilities to ensure all of your games continue to get even better. In partnership with the Xbox Advanced Technology Group, Xbox Series X delivers a new, innovative HDR reconstruction technique which enables the platform to automatically add HDR support to games. As this technique is handled by the platform itself, it allows us to enable HDR with zero impact to the game’s performance and we can also apply it to Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles developed almost 20 years ago, well before the existence of HDR.

In addition, the new Quick Resume feature was designed to not only work with new games, but it can also be enabled for backward-compatible titles. Quick Resume enables players to resume exactly where they left off, across multiple titles, ensuring gamers can get right back to the fun in an instant.

All of these advances happen at the platform level and require no additional work from title developers.

Advancing the State of the Art of Game Preservation

In addition to preserving the legacy of our loyal fans who have been with us since the beginning, we enable entirely new generations of gamers to play and enjoy the timeless games from our past while respecting and honoring their creators.

Beginning with Xbox One X, the compatibility team developed brand new innovations that could be applied to a hand-curated list of titles to enhance them even further than what was possible when they were first created. Techniques such as the Heutchy method, which enables titles to render with increased resolutions up to 4K, or applying anisotropic filtering to improve the final image quality bring these classic games up to modern standards, better than ever before.

With all of the additional power and advancements of the Xbox Series X, the compatibility team now has a veritable playground of new capabilities to innovate and push the limits of game preservation and enhancement. The compatibility team has invented brand new techniques that enable even more titles to run at higher resolutions and image quality while still respecting the artistic intent and vision of the original creators. We are also creating whole new classes of innovations including the ability to double the frame rate of a select set of titles from 30 frames per second to 60 frames per second or 60 frames per second to 120 frames per second.

The team also continues to listen to feedback from the community on additional titles you would like to see added to the compatibility program. Resurrecting titles from history often presents a complex mix of technical and licensing challenges, but the team is committed to doing everything we can to continue to preserve our collective gaming legacy.

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