Amid various PlayStation-ignited conversations about game preservation and digital longevity, Xbox has announced that it is uniting two of its big initiatives: cloud-based gaming and backward compatibility.
Starting today, Xbox has made 16 games across the original Xbox and Xbox 360 console generations available on Android devices via its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, which includes access to the Xbox Cloud Gaming beta.
Xbox has typically kept a strong focus on backward compatibility over the last several years, and especially so going into its current Xbox Series X|S console generation. Both the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S generations, for example, allow players to play games from all preceding Xbox generations, including around 500 Xbox 360 games and 40 original Xbox titles using digital or, in some cases, physical copies.
"We’ve listened to the feedback, going all the way back to our earliest cloud gaming preview, and making games from previous generations available on mobile devices has been one of the most requested features by the community," explains the Xbox team.
"As time goes on, it becomes more important than ever that we ensure gaming icons and classics are preserved for new and old players alike," adds a tweet from the Xbox account.
With this latest update, 16 of those classic games can now be played through the Xbox Cloud Gaming beta on Android devices, including Banjo-Kazooie, Fable II, Fallout: New Vegas, Perfect Dark, and The Elder Scrolls IV: Morrowind, to name just a few. Three of the games featured, two Viva Pinata games and Jetpac Refuelled, include touch control support as well.
As mentioned earlier on, the timing of this announcement and launch comes during a heightened period of concern over game preservation kicked off by PlayStation's announcement that it plans to close down legacy storefronts.
PlayStation announced this week that it plans to take the online storefronts for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable offline on July 2, 2021, and for the PlayStation Vita on August 27, 2021. While players on any of those platforms will still be able to redownload owned titles, they'll lose the ability to purchase digital copies of or DLC for any games once the storefronts go dark later this year. While a selection of older PlayStation games are available digitally for more modern platforms, tons of titles risk becoming incredibly difficult to find or vanish completely once that switch is flipped.