The next Xbox consoles will both be backwards compatible. But there will be differences between how the Xbox Series S backwards compatibility works.
Both Microsoft and Sony have recognized the importance of backwards compatibility heading into the next generation of games consoles. Backwards compatibility was an afterthought on current gen. It was something they decided to add following launch.
For Sony this was in the form of the struggling PS Now. For Microsoft it was their Xbox One backwards compatibility program, which got a positive reception.
The popularity of the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility program helped Microsoft see the value in it. Because of this, backwards compatibility featuring of the Xbox Series X was no surprise.
However, on the Xbox Series S, their budget model, backwards compatibility will work slightly differently. As expected, the smaller console will have limitations in this area.
The good news is the Xbox Series S will indeed be backwards compatible. But there are a few caveats to this.
Backwards Compatibility On The Xbox Series X
The Xbox Series X which will just be 100% backwards compatible from launch. According to Microsoft, it will support all games from the Xbox One. Minus those that require the defunct Kinect.
All Xbox 360 and original Xbox games that are supported by the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility program will be playable too.
This means that if an Xbox 360 and original Xbox game is playable on the Xbox One; then it will be playable on the Xbox Series X. Save games will also be transferable.
However, the Xbox One backwards compatibility program is now over. Once the new generation begins, no more titles will be included.
Certain Xbox One games will be getting a next gen overhaul on the Xbox Series X. This will include graphical improvements, 4K rendering and the ability to run at 30fps.
The player won’t need to do anything to take advantage of this. Certain Xbox One games will have this function already built in for release. More may be added to the list in time too.
Each game will be identified as ‘Xbox Series X Enhanced’ going forward. This will be displayed on all digital and physical copies of the games that are produced going forward.
This way, players will be able to see which games have been optimized for next gen and which have not. But even the games that haven’t been upgraded will still work on the Xbox Series X.
Xbox Series S Differences
As for the smaller Xbox Series S; it too will be backwards compatible with Xbox One, 360 and original Xbox games. Provided they were backwards compatible on the Xbox One.
However, the main difference is; the Xbox Series S will not be able to play the enhanced games. Although it will still work with the basic non-enhanced versions of those games.
Therefore, the Xbox Series S will still be fully backwards compatible, like the larger Xbox Series X. But it won’t offer any improvements to last gen (or older) titles.
This is a fair trade off. There were always going to be limitations to the smaller console. This may explain why the Xbox Series S is struggling to make as many pre-orders as other next gen consoles.
Choosing Between Both Consoles
Even leading game developers have accused the Xbox Series S console of being confusing for game creators and players. From a development and marketing perspective.
It’s also important to consider that the Xbox Series S doesn’t have a disk drive. Therefore, any backwards compatible games will need to be purchased from the Xbox Marketplace.
The problem here is that many of them are still rather pricey considering their age. It's far cheaper to buy older games on disk or pre-owned.
This gives the Xbox Series X another advantage when it comes to backwards compatibility. As many Xbox One owners will still have their games on disk and won’t need to buy them digitally.
If you’re an Xbox fan who values backwards compatibility, then the Xbox Series X may be a better choice. Although, Xbox Series X stock is limited at this present time.
This way you can still play your back catalogue of games. As well as taking advantage of 4K upgrades many will soon have.