When Microsoft announced backward compatibility for Xbox One, I couldn’t help but feel excited. I love my Xbox One, but some of my favorite games of all time are on Xbox 360. The fact that I could play these games on my current console was simply put, a game-changer. None of the other consoles feature backward compatibility, which gives Xbox the upper hand in this aspect. Despite my excitement for the feature, honestly, I find myself rarely using it. If I want to revisit Catherine or Blue Dragon, I’ll play those games.
Additionally, I’ll always download free games each month through Games With Gold. Since I hardly hear people I follow talk about backward compatibility, I thought it wasn’t a popular feature. All of that changed with a trip to Gamestop on Tuesday.
Microsoft revealed that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is now available as a backward compatible game. The fan-favorite in the Modern Warfare franchise has been requested since the program launched. I was at work when the announcement was made, so I didn’t hear the news. I went to Gamestop to preorder the special edition of Super Smash Bros Ultimate when I noticed eight people on the line. For a Summer day, when a new game didn’t launch, I found the crowd surprising. As I stood for the cashier to call me, the phone rang ten times with people asking the same question; “do you have Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2?” It turns out that a few of the people on the line called in before arriving at Gamestop so that an associate could hold them a copy.
The whole situation caught me off-guard. I have some friends who stream Xbox 360 games, but I hardly hear of people playing them on Xbox One. “Why is everyone flocking towards this game?” was a question I asked myself. There is so many newer Call of Duty titles to play on Xbox One. Why play Modern Warfare 2 again? The answer was clear; backward compatibility is a feature that people take advantage of. Microsoft’s vision of an all-in-one ecosystem is becoming a reality. With new consoles on the horizon, seeing how the company is treading new ground with backward compatibility is breathtaking.
The Xbox One has plenty of exclusives to play. My favorite is Sunset Overdrive from Insomniac Games. There’s also Forza Horizon 3, Ryse: Son of Rome, Gears of War 4, Halo 5: Guardians, and the underrated ScreamRide. Of course, there are also a ton of other modern games to choose from. So, what’s the allure of backward compatible games? The chance to replay old favorites is enticing, and the hope that games you want will be added to the program is also something to look forward to. While personal favorites (Catherine, Blue Dragon, Fable: Anniversary, and Soul Calibur 2) are playable on my Xbox One, I often want Microsoft to announce Lollipop Chainsaw, Record of the Agarest War, and Otogi, an original Xbox game to become backward compatible.
The Modern Warfare 2 announcement put things in perspective for me. I always say I want to play backward compatible games, but never really go through with it. If I want to see more games added to the program, I need to show support and boot up the games I like. Clearly, the numbers are there because Microsoft consistently includes more games every month to the backward compatibility list. We’ve seen smaller titles come to the program, but I’ve witnessed first-hand how the community reacts when a big title makes an appearance. Call of Duty is one of the most popular franchises in gaming history. If the numbers are strong now, imagine what will happen during the next generation.
Microsoft doesn’t seem to be backing down on its vision. It recently announced Xbox All Access (a service that allows a consumer to get an Xbox One S or Xbox One X, Game Pass, and Xbox Live for $21.99 and $34.99 respectively), something that will cater to new Xbox owners. Game Pass—one of the best services in the Xbox ecosystem—features plenty of Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games for newcomers to enjoy. With every announcement Microsoft makes and service it creates, the company is becoming more consumer friendly. With a lot of controversy surrounding the preservation of classic games, the company is ensuring with backward compatibility that older games will be easy for consumers to get their hands on.
While backward compatibility may not seem like the most extravagant or talked about feature, Modern Warfare 2‘s inclusion in the program shows that people are still interested in Xbox 360 games. Just because I don’t use the feature as much as I should (and the fact that people I know don’t talk about it often), doesn’t mean that it’s not popular. I’m excited that Microsoft is continuing to make great decisions. While the company’s first-party lineup has been lacking over the past year (although more are coming in the future), Microsoft is absolutely killing it with services and features on Xbox One. Backward compatibility adds to people’s libraries and allows them to make more decisions when it comes to what they want to play. At the rate Microsoft is going, it’s only a matter a time before most of the Xbox 360 catalog ends up being playable on Xbox One. Although I was a naysayer after the fact, I realize that Microsoft knocked it out of the park with backward compatibility, and I hope that more companies support Microsoft’s vision and bring their games to the service.