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Microsoft walks back cross-gen Xbox compatibility for some first-party games

Microsoft showed off an impressive amount of games on Thursday, July 23, all of which would be launching on Xbox Game Pass. However, which titles are coming to both Xbox One and Xbox Series X? That answer to that question was a little murkier.

Earlier in the year, head of Xbox Game Studios Matt Booty stated that all of their first-party titles over the next couple of years would play up and down the Xbox family of devices, insinuating that their games through at least early 2022 would be playable on both current and next-gen consoles.

Xbox head Phil Spencer doubled down on this message as recently as last week in an open letter, specifically stating that players won’t be forced into the next generation, and that first-party titles would be both Xbox One and Series X compatible for at least several years.

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During July’s Xbox Games Showcase, however, many of those first-party titles made no mention of Xbox One on the title screen. While Halo Infinite made it clear that it would support the system, most of the Xbox Game Studios titles only mentioned Series X and PC.

Now, Microsoft seems to be walking back on its commitment to the Xbox One. Head of marketing Aaron Greenberg tweeted that first-party titles were designed with Series X in mind, and that Xbox One support would be optional for those developers if they felt it was right for their title.

Xbox’s own website doesn’t help. Obsidian’s first-person Avowed, and Rare’s Everwild, both mentioned Xbox One support on their online pages yesterday. However, as of this morning, any mention of current-generation support has been removed.

Everwild – Eternals Trailer – Xbox Games Showcase July

For the past year, Microsoft’s messaging had been clear. Their first-party titles would launch day-and-date on Xbox Game Pass, they would be supported by Xbox One, and Series X would be the most powerful console ever.

But those last two ideas are like oil and water. What good is the most powerful hardware ever if the games designed specifically for it must also run on a 7-year-old console that was underpowered at the time?

Maybe it’s simply a case that Halo Infinite will be one of only a couple of first-party titles to launch in that two-year window. If that’s the case, Microsoft might have even bigger problems on its hands.

Tom Caswell
Professional video producer and writer, gaming enthusiast, and streamer! twitch.tv/greatbritom
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