Microsoft announced its plans to bring Xbox 360 games to Xbox One yesterday, and I’ve had a chance to take an early look at some of the titles available to Xbox preview members. Behind the scenes, Microsoft has built an Xbox 360 emulator that runs on the Xbox One to get these games working, and it’s easy to spot. When you first launch an Xbox 360 game on the Xbox One it starts a setup process that includes the Xbox 360 boot up animation and even the Xbox Live prompt to note you’ve signed in. It’s a little surreal, but there’s a virtual Xbox 360 running on my Xbox One now.
I’ve tried Banjo-Kazooie and BattleBlock Theater, and both work well with no performance issues. These titles are barely pushing many pixels, so I wouldn’t expect to see any problems. Once you’re in a game you can access achievements and it brings up the quick access part of the familiar Xbox 360 dashboard. The dashboard is also shown whenever you select storage for games, but it doesn’t randomly appear elsewhere and it just feels like a regular Xbox game otherwise.
Your Xbox 360 games just show up automatically
If you already own digital copies of Xbox 360 games then they’ll show up in the my apps and games section on the Xbox One. From there you just download them and then they’re listed like any other game, just with a clear Xbox 360 label on them. Discs are also supported as long as you keep the game inserted in the tray while you're playing. Xbox 360 games blend in seamlessly with my existing list of Xbox One games, and I can take screenshots or game clips of Xbox 360 titles. Because Xbox 360 games run just like Xbox One titles, you can even snap another app side-by-side without any performance issues. If you didn’t see the boot up animation or Xbox 360 dashboard at any point, you’d just think these were any other Xbox One games.
Most of the 22 games currently available are basic titles, and Microsoft is promising it will have more than 100 games available in the fall with hundreds added over the coming months. It’s a rather impressive achievement that Microsoft has managed to engineer its Xbox One console to run old Xbox 360 games, and it will likely make the console more attractive for those considering the move from an Xbox 360. Xbox One Preview members can test 22 games right now, and the rest will be available in the fall. Microsoft is also planning to release a new dashboard update for the Xbox One in the fall with Cortana integration and a huge new design.