How to Play Xbox 360 Games on the Xbox One

It was at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June that Microsoft first revealed plans to introduce Xbox One Backwards Compatibility. Gamers in the audience went crazy. Now the feature has finally arrived on the Xbox One for all to use.

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Playing Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One was something that most people – even those that work within the gaming industry – didn’t see coming. Microsoft and Sony, the two biggest players in the living room console space, had downplayed the importance of backwards compatibility since the Xbox One and PS4 launched. Sony made up for PS3 games not working with the PS4 by offering paid PlayStation Now rentals. Microsoft didn’t and doesn’t have a streaming video game rental service. It was believed that the company would never be able to compete with what the PS4 offers. Gamers would simply have to hold on to their Xbox 360 consoles.

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Xbox One Backwards Compatibility comes dangerously close to delivering on a perfect backwards compatibility experience. Video game developers don’t have to recode their games or do any work on their end – something that kept the Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility program from taking off. For users, there’s no purchase at all, simply sliding the disc into the Blu-Ray drive built into the Xbox One takes care of everything.

Here’s how to play Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One.

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You Need the New Xbox One Experience

Even before you’ve looked at the list of games that are available through the Xbox One Backwards Compatibility Program, consider whether you have the software update necessary to play Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One.

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Microsoft has tested Xbox 360 games with members of the Xbox One Preview Program for months now. Those users got the feature in the existing software that the Xbox One launched with. The public gets the feature in what Microsoft describes as the New Xbox One Experience. This software update does more than let users play Xbox 360 on Xbox One, it has a completely revamped interface, with a Guide that slides out from the left side of the screen. There are distinct areas for Home, Community, OneGuide & the Xbox Store too. Microsoft made the New Xbox One Experience available for users to download this week.

If you do not have it the New Xbox One Experience, try logging into Xbox Live and seeing if you get a prompt to do so. Microsoft is rolling out the update to everyone gradually, so don’t be alarmed if it takes you some time to get the update. Note that you’ll need a decent internet connection and plenty of time to download the New Xbox One Experience. If you have the Always Connected power-mode enabled your console will download the software update on its own, provided that you’re connected to Xbox Live.

Check To See If Your Games Is Available

Microsoft has 104 different Xbox 360 titles that are available through the Xbox One Backwards Compatibility Program. The company announced a full list of those earlier this week. New games will arrive in the program every month, Microsoft says. Use this online tool to see if your favorite Xbox 360 games are ready to be played on Xbox One.

If you own a game that’s already available through the program, there’s very little you need to do. If you don’t own a game that’s available with the feature, pick up a disc-based copy at GameStop or your local retailer used or brand new. Digital games that you own will automatically surface in the My Games & Apps Collection area if they are available to play on Xbox One. You’ll need to purchase Xbox 360 games online if you want to add them to your digital library and you don’t own them already.

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Microsoft has been clear on disc vs digital when it comes to the Xbox One Backwards Compatibility Program. Any disc you own will unlock a digital download if it’s available. To play that game you will need to insert that disc into the Xbox One’s Blu-ray drive, just like you would an Xbox 360 game. Digital games never required a disc, therefore all you have to do is start one up.

In both cases you’ll need to move your game saves to Xbox Live on the Xbox 360 if you haven’t done so already. The Xbox 360 puts game saves in the cloud by default now, so chances are that your saves are already there.

How to Play a Disc-Based Xbox 360 Game on Xbox One

If you’re playing with a disc, insert that disc into your Xbox One.

Download the digital game from the Xbox Store.

How to Update Xbox One (8)

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Wait for the game to install. With the disc in, start the game from the My Games and Apps area.

After starting the game, Xbox Live will sync your saved game from its servers.

How to Play a Digital Xbox 360 Game on Xbox One

Scroll down on the Home Screen until you see a tile labeled My Games & Apps. Press A on that tile.

How to Update Xbox One (8)

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In your games collection, use the joystick to scroll all the way to the right and get a look at the digital games you own. If there’s an Xbox 360 game that you own in the program, it’ll surface there.

Xbox 360 Games on Xbox One (1)

Download the digital game from the Xbox Store.

Xbox 360 Games on Xbox One (2)

Let the Xbox One check Microsoft’s Xbox Live servers for saved games.

Good luck playing your Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One. Microsoft plans to continue adding titles to the program every month. Already the company is teasing Halo Wars and Halo Reach.