Data questions popularity of Xbox backwards compatibility

Backwards compatibility has always been a headline winner, but the extent to which it is actually used has always been a point of contention.

New data from Ars Technica about Xbox Live usage suggests that, in Xbox One’s case at least, very little time is spent taking advantage of the console’s large Xbox 360 catalogue.

The report found that Xbox 360 titles account for less than two per cent of total Xbox One usage time. As the site says, this means that between them, the hundreds of available titles chalk up less than half the play time of Grand Theft Auto V.

It adds that while Microsoft’s previous claim that Xbox One users had spent 9m hours playing 360 games in the first month of availability, that actually averages out at just a few minutes per user. Indeed, the site’s data shows that over 4.5 months the average Xbox One owner spent just 23.9 minutes playing 360 titles.

On top of this, digital downloads of compatible Xbox 360 games account for just 2.3 per cent of total backward compatibility playtime.

Microsoft, however, has responded to the numbers. Xbox chief marketing officer Mike Nichols pointed out that around half of Xbox One owners have tried backwards compatibility, clocking up over 508m play hours in the process.

Phil Spencer added that usage remains high” and that quality games last and are worth playing”.

All of this comes after PlayStation’s Jim Ryan this week himself suggested that backwards compatibility is nowhere near as popular as the endless headlines may suggest.

"When we’ve dabbled with backwards compatibility, I can say it is one of those features that is much requested, but not actually used much," he said. "I was at a Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and the PS2 games, they looked ancient, like why would anybody play this?"

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