I’m part of the early access program run for XBox One users to trial new features. It’s not that hard to get into, I just got an invite one day – I suspect because I apply for so many Betas across so many platforms. There’s an app on my dashboard that gives me tasks to perform with various planned features and then I give feedback. In return I get full early access to cool stuff, and occasionally free games or admittance to early closed betas for them.
At E3 this week, Microsoft announced the upcoming backward compatibility of 360 games on the XBox One, and I’ve been trialling the short collection of titles based on my previous purchases: Mass Effect, Kingdom for Keflings, and Zuma.
How does it work? Well to be blunt, you’re running digital downloads that then run in an XBox360 emulator running under the One. If your original game was a digital download, it just appears under your games, ready for installation. Otherwise you still need to put the original disc in the drive to then prompt the image download.
Once the games have installed to your hard drive, you can then launch them. The 360 launch screen appears, it searches for your cloud saves, and away you go. The good news is that so far they seem to run quickly and effectively, and they run as an XBox app, so you can still snap, cut back to the desktop and do anything else just like any other app.
The disappointment so far is that you are still effectively downloading an image even if you have the disc. I would hope that the equivalent of a no-CD crack would be applied so you don’t effectively need it as a key to launch, or that the emulator would actually be able to play off the disc, but that’s probably a bit much to ask in these DRM days. Instead, expect to be using up your hard drive space at a rate of knots, so invest in an external drive and be ready to uninstall/delete games when you’ve stopped playing them.
There’s still a few months before this feature goes live for everyone, so maybe they’ll iron it out a bit. I’ll try to do some Twitch streaming to really see how good the XBox integration is, and I’ll update it in a few days.