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How Microsoft got 360 and Xbox games working on Xbox One

"I was a fool to think that writing the emulator was going to be the hardest part," Xbox's Kareem Choudhry says in a new IGN feature about the process of bringing back-compat to Xbox One.

Alex Wawro

October 24, 2017

2 Min Read

"For me it was unfinished business for years. I was a fool to think that writing the emulator was going to be the hardest part."

- Xbox exec Kareem Choudhry, speaking to IGN about the process of getting Xbox and Xbox 360 games playable on the Xbox One.

This week the first batch of backwards-compatible Xbox games hit the Xbox One, and alongside that came an interesting article from IGN about how the folks at Microsoft got back-compat up and running on the One itself.

Curious devs will find some intriguing tidbits in the article, including the acknowledgement (aptly pointed out by Ars Technica) that backwards compatibility was at one point planned to be a feature of the Xbox One at launch -- but it became a low priority amid the console's rocky debut.

"For me it was unfinished business for years,” Xbox software engineering VP Kareem Choudhry told IGN, explaining that he'd been passionate about the idea for some time but realized, shortly after digging back into the back-compat project after a 2014 regime change, that intellectual property rights were going to be a thorny problem. 

"I was a fool to think that writing the emulator was going to be the hardest part," he continued. "How do you go and re-ship IP that you don’t own on a new platform?"

The rest of the IGN article doesn't dig too deeply into how Microsoft has dealt with that problem, but it does offer up some interesting perspective on the trials and triumphs of the Xbox and Xbox 360 back-compat projects (codenamed Fission and Fusion, respectively).

Incidentally, it also implies they've been driven in part by internal enthusiasm for emulation and "old" games, which is well in line with the sentiments expressed by Xbox chief Phil Spencer when he chatted with Gamasutra earlier this year.

"As a developer, as somebody who plays a ton of games and has been in this industry for a long time, I kind of have this belief that there are just games people should play," Spencer said. "People should go back and play Ico. People should go back and play Donkey Kong Country. People should go back and do those things, just like people go back and listen to old music or read old books."

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