clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Xbox Series X backward compatibility will add HDR, 120 fps support to older games

Thousands of games will be supported on the next-gen Xbox

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

a three-quarters view of the top of the Xbox Series X, with a green piece of plastic visible just beneath the system vents Image: Microsoft
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox will launch with support for “thousands of games” from the original Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, the company says. On Thursday, the company pledged more than just basic support for those older games — they should play better than ever before, according to Jason Ronald, director of program management for Xbox Series X.

That includes support for HDR color in Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles, and even “double the frame rate of a select set of titles from 30 fps to 60 fps or 60 fps to 120 fps.”

“Backwards compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X hardware, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU and the SSD,” Ronald said in a blog post published on Xbox Wire. “No boost mode, no down clocking, the full power of the Xbox Series X for each and every backward compatible game. This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, many times even higher performance than the games saw on their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady framerates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality. Backwards compatible titles also see significant reductions in in-game load times from the massive leap in performance from our custom NVME SSD which powers the Xbox Velocity Architecture.”

Microsoft offered similar performance upgrades for Xbox 360 titles on Xbox One X, the company’s mid-generation update to Xbox One. Select Xbox 360 games can run at 4K resolution and enhanced color depth on Xbox One X. But it appears that Microsoft is taking backward compatibility support to a new level with Xbox Series X, which is due this holiday season.

“The team developed new platform level capabilities to ensure all of your games continue to get even better,” Ronald said. “In partnership with the Xbox Advanced Technology Group, Xbox Series X delivers a new, innovative HDR reconstruction technique which enables the platform to automatically add HDR support to games. As this technique is handled by the platform itself, it allows us to enable HDR with zero impact to the game’s performance and we can also apply it to Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles developed almost 20 years ago, well before the existence of HDR.

“In addition, the new Quick Resume feature was designed to not only work with new games, but it can also be enabled for backward-compatible titles. Quick Resume enables players to resume exactly where they left off, across multiple titles, ensuring gamers can get right back to the fun in an instant.”

Ronald also leaves the door open for an expanded backward compatibility library. Microsoft announced in 2019 the final list of backward compatible original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles for Xbox One, saying that it was shifting its efforts to focus on future compatibility, but with that work nearing its goal, it appears the Xbox team is considering the addition of more older titles.

“The team also continues to listen to feedback from the community on additional titles you would like to see added to the compatibility program,” Ronald said. “Resurrecting titles from history often presents a complex mix of technical and licensing challenges, but the team is committed to doing everything we can to continue to preserve our collective gaming legacy.”

More details on Microsoft’s Xbox Series X backward compatibility plan can be read on Xbox Wire.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.