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  Xbox 360 Not So Backward-Compatible [Updated]  
Posted 2005-05-19 by Tony Walsh
Microsoft's cryptic PR statement about the Xbox 360's backward-compatibility earlier in the week seems to be misleading, according to information uncovered by It seems the definition of "backward-compatible" is being stretched, perhaps beyond its limits. A selected list of best-selling Xbox games will need to be re-published in order to work on the 360, leaving gamers to wonder (for the time being) not only which titles will get converted, but whether or not they'll have to pay for the converted versions of titles they already own.

[Update: has posted a clarifying statement from Microsoft's PR manager Michael Wolf: "Our goal is to have every Xbox game work on Xbox 360. You will NOT need to purchase a new 'version' - your original games will work on Xbox 360." The backward-compatibility confusion could have been solved definitively by a clearer statement in the original Xbox 360 press release, which stated "Xbox 360 will be backward-compatible with top-selling Xbox games." Thanks to reader Slayve for pointing out the GamesIndustry update.]
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Comment posted by Taluagel
May 19, 2005 @ 11:51 am
And remember all the XBOX features you needed to buy seperate just to make it play DVD's etc. Microsoft is stupid, Playstation is the only console that actually doesnt try to rape people for more money after release
Comment posted by hydro_tml
May 23, 2005 @ 12:54 pm
Actually, Taluagel, or should I say "Secret Sony Spy Misleading The People For The Company's Greedy Benefit", The 360 will not only have Dvd capabilities from the start, It will also have Xbox Live Silver and a 20 gig hard-drive out of the box, something Sony has been incapable of doing to benefit any game other than Final Fantasy XI (Which is also coming to Xbox). If anyone is trying to rape people for money, it sure as heck looks like Sony. Powertothepeople!
Comment posted by Slayve
May 24, 2005 @ 5:37 pm
I haven't heard anything definitive about the 360 having DVD capabilities out of the box, it's quite possible you'll have to buy a remote like the first one. Also, the 360's usefulness as a DVD player will be curtailed by the soon-to-be-released HD-DVDs, which the 360 will not be able to play. If Blu-Ray wins the next-gen DVD format battle, then the PS3 will have an extra marketing point over the 360. Not putting an HD-DVD drive in the 360 is very odd decision on Microsoft's part considering how much they're touting the 360 as "all HD all the time." I guess they'll have to put an asterix next to that claim and in fine print at the bottom of their ads put "except for movies." Oh well.

As for 360 backward compatibility, the editors of GameSpot News contacted MS directly about the story and were told in no uncertain terms: "Our goal is to have every Xbox game work on Xbox 360. You will NOT need to purchase a new 'version.' Your original games will work on Xbox 360." Sounds pretty definite to me.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
May 24, 2005 @ 11:26 pm
Slayve, thanks for the comments -- I'd have posted an update regarding the backwards-compatibility, but I've been away for the last 5 days. The information in the entry was accurate at the time of posting. Doubtless a lot has developed in my absence.

rock on
Comment posted by hydro_tml
May 25, 2005 @ 1:14 pm
Hey slayve

The dvd info is right in the xbox homepage, so I would say it definitely plays dvds out of the box, but you are right about the hd-dvds. Either way, I seriously doubt that this is a Sony-Microsoft battle, seeing as the Nintendo Revolution gives you some options rarely seen in other game systems, such as downloading games from prior Nintendo systems and playing them on the Revolution
Comment posted by Slayve
May 25, 2005 @ 2:11 pm
Thanks for the link about the DVD info, I hadn't bothered to look at the official site. Duh! It's nice to see that it will be a progressive-scan DVD, but it would have been nicer if it were HD as well, like all its games will be.

The ability to download Nintendo's enormous catalog of games certainly makes the Revolution enticing. However, they haven't mentioned pricing for these downloads, and you can already play most of their old games via emulators, so it's not as if they're unavailable. Will the cost be in line with the current market rate for those same games used? And what about all the game collectors who still have their old Nintendo cartriges, will they have to repurchase games they already have in order to play them on the Revolution? It seems likely.

Another thing to consider is whether you'll be able to use classic controllers with these downloaded games. This seems highly unlikely since the Revolution has no controller ports--its new controllers will be wireless. But how well will the old games play using the still-secret Revolution controller, which is rumored to be unlike any controller we've seen before? At least with PC emulators, you can use the old controllers via a USB converter box.

It still looks to me like the coming war will be between Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo may be able to retain their profitable third-place niche in the gaming world; but I really don't think the download service, as nice as it is, will appeal to anyone other than long-time Nintendo fans. I see nothing in their strategy that will bring them any more into the mainstream than they already are. Of course, this doesn't mean they can't still make great games and remain profitable; just that they won't be able to compete with Sony and Microsoft in terms of non-gaming capabilities. But if they keep the price low (half the price of the 360 or PS3 seems about right), make some great 1st-party games, and maintain decent 3rd-party support, they may be able to stay in the console game at least through this next generation.

One last word on the Revolution has to do with DVD playback: according to their E3 unveiling, they stated that it will have DVD playback only with "an internal attachment." Sounds to me like you'll have to buy an adapter in order to watch DVDs, much like the first Xbox. This just strengthens my feeling that Nintendo is not even trying to compete with the other two systems in terms of non-gaming functionality.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
May 25, 2005 @ 2:21 pm
I agree that Nintendo's yet-unpriced retro-game downloads are a nice but ultimately neglible feature of the Revolution. I think this round of the console wars is going to go very badly for Nintendo, they simply can't keep offering us Super Mario Something Or Other and expect us to stay interested, even if it does come with a lickable controller.
Comment posted by Slayve
May 25, 2005 @ 7:34 pm
No way, lickable controllers? I am sooo there!
Comment posted by Jos 'Hyakugei' Yule
May 26, 2005 @ 1:31 pm
What are Nintendo's sales like in Japan? While they may be loosing the NA market, how do they do over seas? Or do they sink or swim solely on how well they do here?
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
May 26, 2005 @ 1:34 pm
I don't have any stats handy, but I'm pretty sure the North American and European markets are each pretty substantial -- at the very least with regards to sheer buying-power/population. I think if Nintendo was to coast on Japanese sales alone, it'd have to scale down.
Comment posted by Slayve
May 27, 2005 @ 1:46 pm
Gamespot conveniently gives us the answer in a news item today.

"[Nintendo's] sales in North America were 257.9 billion yen ($2.39 billion), and sales in Europe were 121.3 billion yen ($1.12 billion). Meanwhile, sales in Japan totaled 132.0 billion yen ($1.223 billion)."

The report also said that their profits doubled this year, but they expect them to decrease by about 14% next year because of slowed GameCube and GBA sales in the face of next-gen consoles and handhelds. Still, considering their console is a rather distant third in the market, and their DS is seriously thin on content, Nintendo is doing remarkably well. I don't know that much about them, but I understand that this is partly because they are quite diversified, especially in Asia, with arcades and amusement parks.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
May 27, 2005 @ 2:07 pm
Woah, so the NA market is equal to the Euro and Japanese markets combined.

I sort of see Nintendo as moving into Disney territory, so it's interesting that they're already into amusement parks. I think they should produce specialty consoles/toys (i.e. the DS) and just license their characters out. No sense in getting into a console war they appear to be about to lose.
Comment posted by hydro_tml
May 27, 2005 @ 9:19 pm
I think you guys need to read this article about the Revolution to keep up to date about what Nintendo is up to.
Also, the Controller ports on the Revolution look similar to the Gamecube's, so the possibility to use classic controllers (With adapters) will highly be likely.
Let's not forget that This isn't the first time Nintendo has been in such a predicament, so My hopes for the Revolution to provide Competition to competitors is still very high.
Let's not forget that this shouldn't really matter right now until we see how The videogames turn out for each system. One thing that keeps being constant from Sony is its ability to provide diverse titles from both American And Japanese developers, but most seem to lack playability or attractiveness gameplaywise (With exeptions, of course). Microsoft is heading to another direction with the Xbox360, focusing on changing minor aspects of gameplay to offer something different (Custom Soundtracks, no real need for memory cards, internal HardDrive), but lacking major Japanese developers.
I strongly believe that Nintendo Will change something about videogaming drastically somehow, someting it's really familiar with. Remember, if not for Nintendo, we would have never really had d-pads in the '80s.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
May 28, 2005 @ 12:31 am
I appreciate Nintendo as much as the next guy, but there aren't many facts in that IGN article that haven't been revealed in press releases--seems like a lot of the article is pure speculation (which is pretty telling in itself). I remain skeptical about the "Revolution" and its ability to gain significant ground vs. the PS3 and Xbox. A good part of that skepticism is due to Nintendo's poor showing at E3. Of course Microsoft and Sony could be completely bullshitting us with regards to system specs, features, and developers, but I am more confident that they'll deliver. I remember how "revolutionary" Nintendo's Virtual Boy seemed back in `95, and it turned out to be a stinker.
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