Microsoft: Xbox 360 game support on Xbox One via the cloud is "problematic"

Will Xbox One owners get to play "Halo 4" for the Xbox 360 at some point? Maybe.

Back in May, Don Mattrick, then the head of Microsoft's interactive entertainment division, made many gamers upset when he dismissed plans to offer support for playing Xbox 360 games on the upcoming Xbox One, saying, "... if you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards". Now that Mattrick is trying to save Zynga as its new CEO, Microsoft has apparently had a change of heart on this matter, but it may still be a while before you can play "Halo 4" on your Xbox One.

In a chat with Polygon, Microsoft executive Albert Penello talked about the possibility of playing Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One via a streaming cloud server service. In September, Microsoft showed off "Halo 4" streaming to a Windows 8 PC and a Windows Phone device at a company meeting. Penello called the demo a "grand experiment" but added:

It's really cool and really problematic, all at the same time, insofar as it's really super cool if you happen to have the world's most awesome internet connection. It works way better than you'd expect it to.

Penello hinted that problems such as managing the quality of such a streaming game service still need to be overcome. Sony has already announced that it will offer a way for PlayStation 4 owners to stream PS3 games via a cloud server, but that won't be ready until sometime in 2014. Penello said he will be "really interested" to see if Sony can handle the problems that Microsoft has already encountered.

Source: Polygon | Image via Microsoft

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I foresee a problem when using xbox1 and 360 at same time. And I maybe the one to find out. Implant on connecting my 360 to the hemi in of the 1. The 368 is my extender since I don't have pay TV anymore. It will be interesting to see what happens when I'm signed in to th one an 360 at the same time.

Xbox 1 Pro - now with extra PPC chip for emulation. I would pay +100$ for that.

And if not, how about a way to connect Xbox 360 to the Xbox 1 with a special Kinect style cable, and use it's CPU to render the 360 games, while seamlessly integrate them into the X1 dashboard.

The HDMI thing is OK I guess, but I don't want to use two dashboards...

That seems like a really complex solution when I can just plug my 360 into another input my video receiver. I'll even be freeing one up because the cable box will be going through the XB1.

judging by the number of "xbone won't ..." and "xbone can't ..." articles on neowin for the past 24 hours, it looks like microsoft is desperately trying to push a alpha-box out of the door for the launch. but then. this is ms. so what else is new.

On Live does this with PC Games. It is 5Mbit minimum to even be workable and I'm pretty sure that is at a reduced resolution still.

Wait, I thought the xbox one had HDMI in? So can't you just hook your 360 to your xbox 1 and enjoy your 360 games on your HDTV? it makes sense, right?? Wasn't this a touted feature at a reveal?...

I personally think select titles will be XBLA-ized to work on the xbox one, I don't think we'll get to the point were you can shove a 360 disc into an xbone and have it play. Considering the 360 was PPC arch and the XBone is X86 it'd be a huge coding feat. re-writing the executable to be x86 and using the disc for the files could work... I mean if a hacker can write a 360 game to a PC it has to be possible.

http://kotaku.com/hacker-crack...me-to-pc-calls-it-511411861

srbeen said,
Wait, I thought the xbox one had HDMI in? So can't you just hook your 360 to your xbox 1 and enjoy your 360 games on your HDTV? it makes sense, right?? Wasn't this a touted feature at a reveal?...

I personally think select titles will be XBLA-ized to work on the xbox one, I don't think we'll get to the point were you can shove a 360 disc into an xbone and have it play. Considering the 360 was PPC arch and the XBone is X86 it'd be a huge coding feat. re-writing the executable to be x86 and using the disc for the files could work... I mean if a hacker can write a 360 game to a PC it has to be possible.

http://kotaku.com/hacker-crack...me-to-pc-calls-it-511411861

Also the drives won't be capable of reading the XBox 360 dvds. It is very unlikely they coded the firmware on those drives to do so since Backwards Compatibility wasn't really a planned feature.

srbeen said,
Wait, I thought the xbox one had HDMI in? So can't you just hook your 360 to your xbox 1 and enjoy your 360 games on your HDTV? it makes sense, right?? Wasn't this a touted feature at a reveal?...

Well, obviously, but most TVs come with more than input, so why?

Spicoli said,

Well, obviously, but most TVs come with more than input, so why?

Well I'm maxed out on my TV (I have 3 hookups and all 3 in use) so freeing up one would be very useful.

shinji257 said,

Well I'm maxed out on my TV (I have 3 hookups and all 3 in use) so freeing up one would be very useful.

You just plug your cable box or whatever into the XB1 HDMI pass through, so you don't need an extra one. That's the way it's intended to work.

If Microsoft can bring up the cloud gaming for a selected few games into the Windows Store. Allowing me for example to play Halo 3 on my Surface Pro then I will be so happy.

Streaming games in real time just seems so hard. I can't even fathom how it could be a good experience by the nature of it.

What he's talking about is what we all know, you need a good connection to play the game well. Streaming a HD movie is one thing but a HD game is another matter and not everyone can get a good experience doing so. I have a 10-12mbps connection and I'm probably borderline able to play a game via one of these services and at best if it's got some dynamic resolution going to where I get a reduced quality picture out of it.

The tech is there, MS has the servers with Azure and XBL and so on but that's just the server side, the client side is the issue. There's probably things to do to work it out, some form of compression maybe, a good size buffer maybe? Some form of both could maybe work out well, the data is compressed on the way to the client and then locally the system can decompress it and run it off of a local buffer. Though doing it this way would mean it won't be instant play, you'll have to wait for a good chunk to be buffered at first.

Come to think of it I bet this is how the new consoles are handling disc installs and digital downloads where you don't have to wait for the install/download to finish before you start to play the game, just have to wait for the first chunk to be done.

GP007 said,

Come to think of it I bet this is how the new consoles are handling disc installs and digital downloads where you don't have to wait for the install/download to finish before you start to play the game, just have to wait for the first chunk to be done.

Yes, of course that's how the consoles can let you play a partial install, just like how some PC games (mostly MMOs also let you do this). But that won't help you when streaming the games, the reason you'd be streaming rather than downloading is that the code of 360 games just isn't compatible with the Xbox One, same with the playstation (not saying you couldn't port/recompile it, but not sure about that at all). The game would be running "in the cloud" on a server, you send input to the server and the server send audio and video to you console.

For it to be possible to load segments of the game and then play them your local console would have to be the machine executing the game code.

GP007 said,
What he's talking about is what we all know, you need a good connection to play the game well. Streaming a HD movie is one thing but a HD game is another matter and not everyone can get a good experience doing so. I have a 10-12mbps connection and I'm probably borderline able to play a game via one of these services and at best if it's got some dynamic resolution going to where I get a reduced quality picture out of it.

The tech is there, MS has the servers with Azure and XBL and so on but that's just the server side, the client side is the issue. There's probably things to do to work it out, some form of compression maybe, a good size buffer maybe? Some form of both could maybe work out well, the data is compressed on the way to the client and then locally the system can decompress it and run it off of a local buffer. Though doing it this way would mean it won't be instant play, you'll have to wait for a good chunk to be buffered at first.

Come to think of it I bet this is how the new consoles are handling disc installs and digital downloads where you don't have to wait for the install/download to finish before you start to play the game, just have to wait for the first chunk to be done.

It gets even more complicated than this...

Latency and upstream restrictions are the mitigating factor. The downstream HD image can easily fit on even a 3mbps DSl connection, but latency, upstream speeds, and dealing with network issues like dropped and rerouted packets.

As for networks, we are getting there. Right now an LTE connection is better equipped for online gaming than most cable internet providers. The problem is bandwidth is where carriers are making money, and 10hrs of gaming over LTE would eat most monthly allowances.

I have seen fiber connections with less than capable backbones at providers that would fail online gaming, and I have seen cheap Cable connections that have <1ms to port, and adequate backbones to handle all the gaming that could be thrown at it.

Right now the network quality is the problem, as some users have great connections, but if they do any monitoring will notice out of range jitter and packet loss occurring every minute.

This is where gaming has the biggest issues even for MMOs and online multiplayer, as the gaming servers have to compensate for the poor quality connection users. This is where the 'host' advantage or modem drop tricks give players advantages, as they can trick the server into seeing them as a latent connection and then be compensating for them when they have a faster connection for example.

Single player games can be done a lot easier, the problem will be when users want to play Halo 4 on their devices in a multi-player round.

Jeez, the tech press is really beating the war drums for the XB1's destruction lol. How is this even an issue when the PS4 lacks backwards compatibility as well?

Wapoz said,
Jeez, the tech press is really beating the war drums for the XB1's destruction lol. How is this even an issue when the PS4 lacks backwards compatibility as well?

It's not, anyone who wants to make this an issue is being silly. Sony has it's plans, it's service has been delayed though (well, I seem to remember that the idea was for it to come out sooner but it was pushed back to late 2014 or w/e. I could be wrong on this). If they're service works well or is hit and miss for some users depending on their own internet speed then that just proved Alberts point.

You also have to take into account that people have caps to, crappy as they are. Which complicate things even more. I bet streaming a game is a good, and faster way, to eat into that monthly limit quicker than Netflix could.

Probably because (on both fronts) lacking backwards compatibility is completely stupid. If I installed Windows 8.1 and suddenly every game I had designed around the graphics APIs in XP broke, or if I upgraded to a newer CPU and everything designed in the Pentium 4 era broke I'd be furious.

Javik: While that is nice and all, you upgrading to 8.1 isn't that great of an example. The Xbox 360 and it's games were using a PPC based architecture if I remember correctly which would be the biggest PITA to convert to x86 which is what the XB1 runs with.

Wapoz said,
Jeez, the tech press is really beating the war drums for the XB1's destruction lol. How is this even an issue when the PS4 lacks backwards compatibility as well?

Well, at least on this site. Three of the last seven stories have been "something that sounds negative about the XB1". Making cheap shots at Microsoft seems to be the Sony marketing strategy, since they certainly can't compete on features.

Javik said,
Probably because (on both fronts) lacking backwards compatibility is completely stupid. If I installed Windows 8.1 and suddenly every game I had designed around the graphics APIs in XP broke, or if I upgraded to a newer CPU and everything designed in the Pentium 4 era broke I'd be furious.

No offense, but you really don't understand the architecture of a games console (or its games). Your example is way off...

For optimal performance, console games are coded to take advantage of the available hardware. The two are VERY closely linked. It is far more than having some compatibility mode... Nor would it be acceptable performance wise...

Well, this should all come as no surprise... It would be really nice, and I'm sure Microsoft could figure it out, but the varying internet speeds around the world are a big issue.

I'm planning on keeping my Xbox 360/PS3 until the games are playable on the new gens. I still have my PS2 kicking around somewhere, and my NES, and SNES, and even an old Atari 2600. Sometimes its good to play old games!

Brian M said,
I'm planning on keeping my Xbox 360/PS3 until the games are playable on the new gens. I still have my PS2 kicking around somewhere, and my NES, and SNES, and even an old Atari 2600. Sometimes its good to play old games!

Yup, that's why I just fire up an emulator for GC/PS2 and older. Unfortunately it'll be quite some time before the current gen can be emulated.

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
Why not just keep your old 360 console and use it to play your 360 games?

I used to think bc was something a next gen console should offer but to be honest I would rather they not worry about it any more and try and innovate as much as possible.

Although it is quite ironic that the best console for bc this generation was the Wii (and now Wii U to be fair) when they have actually made the biggest innovations compared to Sony and Microsoft yet also delivered a better bc experience. with MS offering some support for "selected titles" and Sony then just dumping PS2 support all together after a while for whatever reason.

Sony have only just stopped making the PS2 though from what I read a couple of months ago and it is still possible to buy brand new units (with 12 month warranty) for around £100 in the UK which is pretty amazing. I doubt the PS3 and 360 will get such a long time but who knows.

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
Why not just keep your old 360 console and use it to play your 360 games?

Takes up a lot of extra space -- a shelf on your rack, power, Ethernet, video... That said, while it's a "nice to have," I'm not going to lose any sleep over not having it either.

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
Why not just keep your old 360 console and use it to play your 360 games?

Some peoples 360 may be burning/wearing out. So, they will want to 'upgrade' instead of buying a nother 360 when the next gen is out and is future-proof for the next several years whereas the 360 is now obsolete.

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
Microsoft could have stuck a Xbox 360 chip into the Xbox One that would play the 360 games. Then the price of the Xbox one would go way up.

It would go to $599.

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
Microsoft could have stuck a Xbox 360 chip into the Xbox One that would play the 360 games. Then the price of the Xbox one would go way up.

Or introduce potential thermal issues as well.

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
Why not just keep your old 360 console and use it to play your 360 games?

Sure in an ideal world. But 360's aren't exactly reputed for their longevity, and as Fezmid said, there's the issue of keeping it somewhere, as well as keeping two sets of controllers, and so on.

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
Why not just keep your old 360 console and use it to play your 360 games?

Because not everybody has a 360. I'm not going to buy a 360 this late into the console's life cycle. Lack of BC was a deciding factor for me. I was planning on getting a One until they announced there would be no BC. The only reason I wanted an XBOX is to play the console-exclusives, mainly Halo. I really don't have a reason to get one now.

giantpotato said,

Because not everybody has a 360. I'm not going to buy a 360 this late into the console's life cycle. Lack of BC was a deciding factor for me. I was planning on getting a One until they announced there would be no BC. The only reason I wanted an XBOX is to play the console-exclusives, mainly Halo. I really don't have a reason to get one now.


You wanted a next Gen console SOLELY to play last Gen's games??

You're in luck then, there are last Gen consoles that do that...

InTheSwiss said,

I used to think bc was something a next gen console should offer but to be honest I would rather they not worry about it any more and try and innovate as much as possible.

Although it is quite ironic that the best console for bc this generation was the Wii (and now Wii U to be fair) when they have actually made the biggest innovations compared to Sony and Microsoft yet also delivered a better bc experience. with MS offering some support for "selected titles" and Sony then just dumping PS2 support all together after a while for whatever reason.

Sony have only just stopped making the PS2 though from what I read a couple of months ago and it is still possible to buy brand new units (with 12 month warranty) for around £100 in the UK which is pretty amazing. I doubt the PS3 and 360 will get such a long time but who knows.

The BC support in the last gen didn't go anywhere near as well as planned. XBox had a huge platform change (just like this time) so it was all emulated and kinda sucked. On the PS3 side I recall them killing PS2 backwards support in hardware to cut costs because the console as a whole was a hard sell. The unit kept PS1 support in software. Even then you can get PS1 and PS2 games on the PSN store and they will play in software emulated mode. The PS2 games from PSN work on all consoles.

M_Lyons10 said,

You wanted a next Gen console SOLELY to play last Gen's games??

You're in luck then, there are last Gen consoles that do that...

Seriously, how could you possibly jump to that conclusion? I never said that. If you haven't heard, there are console exclusives on next-gen consoles also.

giantpotato said,

Because not everybody has a 360. I'm not going to buy a 360 this late into the console's life cycle. Lack of BC was a deciding factor for me. I was planning on getting a One until they announced there would be no BC. The only reason I wanted an XBOX is to play the console-exclusives, mainly Halo. I really don't have a reason to get one now.

If you don't already have a 360, why do you care about backwards compatibility? You wouldn't already have games for a console you don't have...

giantpotato said,

Seriously, how could you possibly jump to that conclusion? I never said that.

giantpotato previously said,

I'm not going to buy a 360 this late into the console's life cycle. Lack of BC was a deciding factor for me

Seems reasonable for anyone to assume you don't have a 360, because you said you don't have one.

FloatingFatMan said,

If you don't already have a 360, why do you care about backwards compatibility? You wouldn't already have games for a console you don't have...


Because It's still possible to buy 360 games. I want to play Halo 3, ODST, Reach, Halo 4 and Halo 5. If the One it had BC I would have been able to. Now I can't.

thommcg said,

Seems reasonable for anyone to assume you don't have a 360, because you said you don't have one.

I don't have a 360. I wanted a next-gen console to be able to play the current-gen exclusives I missed out on AND the upcoming next-gen console exclusives. M_Lyons10 assumed I wanted a One SOLELY to play 360 games.

giantpotato said,

Because It's still possible to buy 360 games. I want to play Halo 3, ODST, Reach, Halo 4 and Halo 5. If the One it had BC I would have been able to. Now I can't.

Well, unless they get a streaming services going, it's not going to happen. The 360 is FAR too powerful a machine to be able to emulate in any current gen hardware. It just can't be done; the two systems are too different to each other. 360 is PowerPC based, XB1 is x86 based.

InTheSwiss said,


Although it is quite ironic that the best console for bc this generation was the Wii (and now Wii U to be fair) when they have actually made the biggest innovations compared to Sony and Microsoft yet also delivered a better bc experience.

Better BC maybe, but more innovative than Xbox Live party/invites/chat/matchmaking, Arcade, Indie Games, Achievements, video streaming apps, Kinect? I don't think so. The motion controller was a big innovation, but it does not trump everything else put together.

The only reason that Nintendo has decent backwards compatibility is because it's generally just a minor improvement on essentially the same damned hardware.

The Wii was just an overclocked GameCube with motion controllers added.

Edited by FloatingFatMan, Nov 10 2013, 6:29pm :

giantpotato said,

Seriously, how could you possibly jump to that conclusion? I never said that. If you haven't heard, there are console exclusives on next-gen consoles also.


Because you said without BC there was no reason for you to get one? If you wanted to play Next Gen content, that would be a reason no?

Edit: And that is not to say I don't like BC as well, but I certainly don't want the Next Gen hardware to suffer by focusing on BC above Next Gen content. BC would have required an architecture that would have not allowed them to properly grow in the direction they wanted to. And in the end, that benefits the gamers...

We really need to put down our unreasonable wish lists and try to understand why things like BC don't make it into these consoles. Sometimes there are very good reasons...

M_Lyons10 said,

Because you said without BC there was no reason for you to get one? If you wanted to play Next Gen content, that would be a reason no?

Edit: And that is not to say I don't like BC as well, but I certainly don't want the Next Gen hardware to suffer by focusing on BC above Next Gen content. BC would have required an architecture that would have not allowed them to properly grow in the direction they wanted to. And in the end, that benefits the gamers...

We really need to put down our unreasonable wish lists and try to understand why things like BC don't make it into these consoles. Sometimes there are very good reasons...

I can see how that might have been unclear. I said I don't have a reason to get one "now". What I meant was that none of the exclusive launch titles interest me. I might get one eventually, but as of right now none of the games interest me, so I don't have a reason to buy one on launch day.

Avatar Roku said,

Better BC maybe, but more innovative than Xbox Live party/invites/chat/matchmaking, Arcade, Indie Games, Achievements, video streaming apps, Kinect? I don't think so. The motion controller was a big innovation, but it does not trump everything else put together.

Well I consider Xbox Live as something the Xbox did not the 360. Arcade and Indie games were not exactly that innovative. Achievements was very well done though and that is something Nintendo could really do with too IMHO. Kinect was cool but it never felt more than a tech demo. Maybe with Xbox One it will be more interesting.

My comparison with the Wii was that Nintendo took a big gamble by pulling back raw power and investing in making motion controls solid. They didn't get it quite right at first but the WiiMotionPlus was great. Is a bit of a shame that with Wii U all the motion control stuff has kind of been killed off though