Skip to main content

Xbox One gamers don’t play backwards compatible titles? No so fast, says Microsoft

Microsoft disputes Ars Technica's Xbox One backward compatibility report

Xbox One S
Dan Baker/Digital Trends
Update: We received a statement from a Microsoft spokesperson that disputes Ars Technica’s report. We’ve provided that statement in its entirety.

Many Xbox One owners were ecstatic when Microsoft announced that the system would be given backward compatibility with Xbox 360 games on a title-by-title basis — but it seems that most don’t use the functionality all that much. New research suggests that backward-compatible games only account for 1.5 percent of the total minutes users spend with their Xbox One consoles.

These figures come from a new report undertaken by Ars Technica. A third-party API was used to take a random sample of usage data from almost 1 million active Xbox One gamertags, starting last September and continuing for a period of nearly five months.

In total, 1.65 billion minutes of usage were tracked, at an average of 1,526 minutes per player — and the average time each user spent with backward-compatible software was just 23.9 minutes. Backward compatibility may be an attractive feature in theory, but it seems that gamers have a preference for newer titles.

Call of Duty: Black Ops, which was made backward compatible in May 2016, was apparently found to be the most popular Xbox 360 game among the sample. However, even Black Ops was only played by three or four players out of every 1,000.

These findings beg the question of whether or not backward compatibility is a productive use of resources for Microsoft. The list of compatible Xbox 360 titles continues to grow, but if such a small proportion of players are taking advantage of the functionality, the company may choose to move the staff working on the project elsewhere.

In February 2017, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said that bringing Xbox 360 backward compatibility to Windows 10 was unlikely, but remained a possibility. If this data is valid, then it seems very unlikely that Microsoft would invest any more time and effort into pursuing the feature elsewhere in its ecosystem. What’s more, it might reinforce Sony’s reticence to investigate similar functionality for the PlayStation 4.

However, a Microsoft spokesperson sent us a response that disputes Ars Technica’s findings:

“We’ve carefully reviewed Ars Technica’s article, and have completed our own analysis of the actual data using identical parameters. Based on our findings, Ars Technica’s analysis and conclusions are grossly inaccurate and misleading due to an incomplete set of data and drawing conclusions about actual usage from data that approximates usage. As an example, we specifically know, based on our complete view of Xbox Live usage data, players are highly engaged with backwards compatible game titles. It’s why we continue to support this well-loved feature and the games that use it. We appreciate the work and effort by Ars Technica to share more information about the Xbox community and we are continually looking for ways to do so that also protect the interests of gamers and our partners.”

Editors' Recommendations

Brad Jones
Brad is an English-born writer currently splitting his time between Edinburgh and Pennsylvania. You can find him on Twitter…
Microsoft and Nike team up to create Jordan-inspired Xbox One
Nike Xbox One Collaboration

While Microsoft gears up to release its new Xbox Series X console later this year, it's not done with the Xbox One yet. The company teamed up with Nike’s Jordan brand to create a gorgeous, custom Xbox One, which one lucky Twitter user can win.

The limited-edition console is modeled after Nike’s new Air Jordan III Retro U sneaker. It comes with a bright red paint job, similar to the Chicago Bulls signature color, and Nike’s famous "Jumpman" logo appears right on top of the console. It even features a textured pattern similar to the one on the shoes themselves.

Read more
Sticking to 2D: Don’t expect Xbox Scarlett to support VR

Sony launched PlayStation VR several years ago on the PS4, giving console players a chance to experience the virtual reality craze that had been limited to PC platforms in the past. If you were expecting Microsoft to follow suit with its upcoming Xbox console Project Scarlett, however, you're going to be in for some disappointment.

Speaking to Stevivor, head of Xbox Phil Spencer expressed his doubt that console customers would be interested in a VR headset for the Xbox platform, pointing to its success on PC. He also stressed that the sales figures for VR were still relatively low, and far from comparable to traditional console units.

Read more
Your Xbox One may have let other people listen to you, Microsoft contractors say
Xbox One S bundle deal

When Microsoft first revealed the Xbox One in 2013, the plan was for the Kinect sensor to be a mandatory accessory that the system could not function without. Potential customers were concerned that such a requirement would allow others to listen in on their conversations, and according to contractors who have worked with Microsoft, that did happen despite the requirement being removed prior to launch.

According to Vice's Motherboard website, when commands via the Xbox One's voice controls were triggered accidentally, contractors at Microsoft wre able to hear them in their home -- albeit briefly. Microsoft used the contractors in order to improve the features on Xbox One, but if one of the wake-up words was said without the user realizing it, the contractors could hear other chatter not meant for the Xbox One, including from children.

Read more