Microsoft talks up backwards compatibility, new accessories

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We first heard that Microsoft would be doing a bit of backwards compatibility back at E3 earlier in the year, but more news is being unloaded onto the world over at Gamescom, with an early games list included, too.

In Germany right now, there’s another big gaming expo rivalling that of even the Electronic Entertainment Expo, known by its more successful alias of “E3”.

Gamescom is Europe’s answer to E3, much like how IFA is the European equivalent of CES with each occurring a little later in the year.


Right now is the time for Gamescom, anyway, and Microsoft is there talking up what we can expect, and while there are some new games and a new Halo-inspired Xbox console (above), what we’re curious about is something gamers have been asking for since the Xbox One was first announced: backwards compatibility.

This is one of those things that companies have generally ignored for the past two generations. For instance, the Xbox 360 didn’t play the games of the original Xbox, and only the first generation of PlayStation 3 played the games of the PlayStation 2, and it didn’t play that many titles all that well as it was.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy solution for this to happen, either, as the hardware that runs each console is usually quite different, and that means the games have to be emulated or run using a different technology instead of what they were built to work with.

Previously, Microsoft and Sony have resorted to rebuilding the titles and making them available as digital downloads, but it doesn’t happen to all the games, and there has never been true backwards compatibility.

Later this year, Microsoft’s Xbox One will get a little closer, though, with 100 titles that will download to your console if you have the disc already.


According to Microsoft, the game list will start with the likes of “Mass Effect”, “Banjo Kazooie”, “Perfect Dark Zero”, “Kameo”, “Geometry Wars Evolved”, and “Super Meat Boy”, with more to come later on, and all you’ll need to do is insert the disc and the game will download.

From what we know, this means Microsoft is making the backwards compatibility program apply to titles you were able to digitally purchase. The list at the moment is also small, but it’s also the beginning, and right now the feature is in testing with select Xbox One owners.

By the time it launched around November this year, we’re told Microsoft expects closer to 100 titles, with a likelihood that more will come later on.


The extra details of backwards compatibility are only one announcement that harked back to a memory of the Xbox 360, because we’re also seeing the return of the Chatpad, the tiny keypad that allows you to quickly type on the Xbox when you want to send messages.

This one is interesting because as the Xbox becomes more like a computer, we’ll be curious to find out if Microsoft makes the console work with keyboards, too.

“More like a computer?” we hear you ask. Why yes, because now that Windows 10 is out, the Xbox One can start to become a computer that talks to other computers.


Right now, the Xbox One can be streamed through Windows 10 computers, and that’s cool, but it’s been a plan of Microsoft’s for some time that the Xbox One will be upgraded to a version of Windows 10, not just with a more streamlined look that makes more sense from a design point of view, but which also offers access to Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant.

You can expect all of this later this year just before the holiday season, so you still have some time to wait until Microsoft’s plan comes together.