This means a huge catalogue of games, including many dating back to the Xbox 360 and even the original Xbox, can be played on the new machines. The only small caveat relates to games that rely on Microsoft's Kinect motion sensor.
Jason Ronald, Xbox's director of program management, tweeted this week: "After 500K+ hours of testing, we're excited to share that all Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One games playable on Xbox One today, except for the handful that require Kinect, will be available – and look and play better – on Xbox Series X|S at launch."
This is of course good news for gamers who still enjoy playing older titles. But it means Kinect fans are likely to miss out, at least at launch. The motion sensor is almost a decade old now, and despite Microsoft making it an integral part of some games for the Xbox One, it never quite gained mainstream popularity.
After 500K+ hours of testing, we're are excited to share that all Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One games playable on Xbox One today, except for the handful that require Kinect, will be available – and look and play better – on Xbox Series X|S at launch. — Jason Ronald (@jronald) October 28, 2020
Some games used the Kinect for additional features, like how in Forza Motorsport games the driver can look around by moving their head. But dreams of using the sensor as part of a suite of sports and fitness games, like Nintendo managed with the motion-sensing controllers of the Wii and Switch consoles, never really caught on.
Away from Kinect, there are still many older Xbox and Xbox 360 titles that don't play on the Xbox One, despite ongoing efforts from Microsoft to improve backwards-compatibility. We hope now that the new consoles are ready for sale Microsoft will continue its work in bringing older titles to its newer consoles.
Microsoft's compatibility news for the Series X and S comes just a couple of weeks after Sony explained how backwards compatibility will work on its upcoming PlayStation 5. Sony said how the "overwhelming majority" of games made for the PS4 will work on the PS5.
However, there are some titles that won't work at all, and Sony has warned that some games may "exhibit errors or unexpected behavior" when played on the new console. Sony also failed to mention what the situation is for older PS3 and PS2 games, from the eras of the Xbox 360 and Xbox respectively.