The Xbox Scorpio Is The Ultimate Exemplification Of Microsoft’s Commitment To Backward Compatibility

The Scorpio is the ultimate vindication of Microsoft’s vision for compatibility.

Posted By | On 08th, Apr. 2017 Under Article, Editorials | Follow This Author @Pramath1605

Something changed at Microsoft around 2015- after releasing two consecutive consoles that had limited compatibility with their predecessors, if any at all, it appears as though Microsoft came to the realization that backward compatibility may be, ironically enough, the way forward. In the modern world, a purchase of a device transcends that device itself- for the consumer, it is an investment in that ecosystem. Modern smartphones and tablets have taught customers that when you buy a device, everything you buy on it is safe and preserved, carried forward to any future device from that same company that you may buy.

This is not how consoles have worked- for the longest time, they have had limited, if any, backward compatibility at all. In fairness, there have been some standout exceptions to this rule- the PlayStation 2 and launch models PlayStation 3, for instance, as well as the Wii and Wii U, and every Nintendo handheld through to the 3DS, were all marked by stellar, native compatibility with the systems that came before them. But on the whole, backward compatibility is the exception to the rule.

This starkly stands out as a sore thumb not only in contrast to the rest of the consumer electronics industry – as noted above – but also when one considers that with the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii, consoles tried to enter a digital era. These systems tried to create a digital ecosystem, and then keep you within it- your online identity, friends list, Achievements/Trophies, and most of all, games you had invested in digitally, all of which were meant to ensure that you would also purchase the next Xbox, the next PlayStation, the next Nintendo. After all, you wouldn’t want to lose any of that investment of time and money, would you?

But when the PS4 and Xbox One came around, they both broke compatibility with their predecessors- while your PSN ID and Gamertag, along with associated Achievements/Trophies and friends lists did come along to the new systems, your games themselves did not. Your purchase histories made it through- but you couldn’t actually download and play your games on your new consoles.

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"When the PS4 and Xbox One came around, they both broke compatibility with their predecessors."

The argument can be made that console gamers are used to this- after all, this is how things have been for the last 30 years or so. However, that would be ignoring the fact that the console market does not exist in a bubble, that it is subject to changing expectations and contexts in the larger industry around it, and that when it appropriates things from other industries, it also appropriates the associated expectations and costs- you can’t selectively pick what you like and ignore everything else. When Sony and Microsoft decided to promise their customers ecosystems like with smartphones and tablets, the implicit understanding was that these would be cross generational- just like those smartphones and tablets.

So, yes, both the PS4 and Xbox One launched without any backward compatibility whatsoever. But in 2015, that changed- Microsoft, the company with the shabbiest track record for backward compatibility so far, and one that had openly disavowed the idea of it ever happening in the lead up to the Xbox One’s launch, made a grand commitment to backward compatibility for Xbox 360 on Xbox One- and then it followed through, giving Xbox One owners much to celebrate and look forward to.

For Microsoft, this was a strategic move- it ties into their move towards ecosystems and services. If they want Xbox to transcend the hardware and become a platform – which initiatives like Xbox Play Anywhere show us that they do – then the Xbox ecosystem must also no longer be hardware bound, either. Compatibility among different hardware configurations is a must.

"For Microsoft, backward compatibility was a strategic move- it ties into their move towards ecosystems and services."

The clearest indication that Microsoft has learned this lesson – outside of the previously mentioned software initiatives such as Play Anywhere and Backward Compatibility for Xbox 360 – is the Xbox One Scorpio. The new console is a dramatic, radical step up from the existing Xbox One hardware- but in a bold, and in what many may even consider baffling, move, it is completely, inextricably, tied to it. This has two benefits- not only do all of your games on Xbox One, including all of your Xbox 360 games that work on it, but going forward, all Xbox Scorpio games must also work on the Xbox One. In simple words, just because Microsoft came out with new hardware, with an almost generation leap in specs, does not mean that your existing Xbox One is obsolete- for the foreseeable future, it will continue to play all games that are made available on Xbox.

In fact, even hardware design decisions for the Scorpio were made taking that into account. “So, eight cores, organized as two clusters with a total of 4MB of L2 cache. These are unique customized CPUs for Scorpio running at 2.3GHz. Alluding back to the goals, we wanted to maintain 100 per cent backwards compatibility with Xbox One and Xbox One S while also pushing the performance envelope,” Microsoft’s Nick Baker told Eurogamer over the course of their Scorpio unveil yesterday. In other words, the Scorpio was built specifically with compatibility with the existing Xbox ecosystem in mind.

This is an admirable stance for Microsoft- there is a lot about the company’s Xbox division that I don’t particularly find myself agreeing with these days, but all credit where credit is due, this is an excellent, forward thinking stance to take, and a far cry from how Sony is doing things. Oh, sure- Sony, too, has invested in a PS4 Pro with inter compatibility being their driving principle, and it, too, invested in x86 architecture as the basis of its consoles, to ensure forward compatibility. But on the backward compatibility front, Sony is increasingly falling behind.

"The clearest indication that Microsoft has learned this lesson – outside of the previously mentioned software initiatives such as Play Anywhere and Backward Compatibility for Xbox 360 – is the Xbox One Scorpio."

No compatibility with the PS3 is a well trodden subject by now, and I have nothing more to add to that– I even understand why it is difficult, and I do not begrudge Sony for its exclusion from the PS4. But what about PS1? PS2? PSP and PS Vita? The PS2 especially rankles because Sony has brought PS2 games to the PS4, but it has the audacity to charge you full price for them- even if you already owned those games. So if you bought GTA: San Andreas from the PSN Store on PS3, guess what? You’ll have to buy it again for PS4, even though your account purchase history recognizes that you bought it on PS3 already. All of your PS1 Classics purchases? Those don’t carry over to the PS4 either (even though the console is more than capable of playing PS1 games).

So while Sony has certainly made investments on the hardware front to ensure compatibility, what reason do I have to believe that my PS4 purchases will be honored going forward? Hardware compatibility didn’t make my PS1 and PS2 Classics carry over to the PS4- why would this be any different? Sony, so far, has not done much to inspire confidence in its plans for compatibility and integrated ecosystems going forward. Microsoft has- that is the one area where they are indisputably ahead of Sony this generation. The Scorpio is the ultimate testament to that.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.

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  • Living While Alive

    The games are coming @ E3 and more beyond because developers will want to bring there dream alive with this beast!

    Check this out my theory.

    Microsoft knows @ $500, loads of people will still buy the Scorpio.

    However, Microsoft also knows that for $400? The Scorpio would sale like hotcakes!

    Scorpio doesn’t his benefit 4k TV users, but 1080p TV users as well.

    1080p @ 60fps at all times, no dips tears or what have you. Plus, extra enhancements and features out of the box to display the absolute best 1080p motion picture or UltraHD 1080p.

    But it’s labeled as a premium product, not just to the market, but not importantly to the Xbox ecosystem.

    So the price must be, accordingly.

    I expect a price drop on an ‘entry-level’ Xbox One to $200, officially!

    That would make an entry-level premium Xbox, $200 difference.

    While that may not seem a lot, to most it is. I mean $200 more dollars for lil Timmy to play the same exact games, with his friends and the graphics are still good?

    Nah, mom or dad who are on a budget will be like, “child please, when you get yourself a job you can buy what you want. You don’t have bills to pay!”

    • crazy_black_man-
    • Barricade_BE

      UltraHD 1080p

      lolz, that’s something I’ve never heard before.

    • Living While Alive

      1080p/4K @ 30/60fps:
      Low settings
      Medium settings
      High settings
      Ultra- High settings

      Just because something is displayed in 1080p or 4k doesn’t mean it’s at maximum setttings.

      Aka faux 4k aka checkerboard rendering aka PS BORE Pro

    • Barricade_BE

      Obviously I was referring to the fact that you say UltraHD 1080p is a thing, while it isn’t. There’s no such thing, it’s either UltraHD (4k) or 1080p (or another format ofcourse).

      Settings don’t matter when talking about resolution, a turd running at 4k is still Ultra HD, the best game running at 1080p is still only full HD, even if everything is maxed out.

      Your choice of words was wrong, but that doesn’t matter. You lost all credibility when you said PS BORE Pro. You’re missing out on a lot of great games by excluding the PS4 from your collection. But your choice, I don’t care.

      PS: I don’t really know if it’s faux 4K, I believe it’s actually legit 4K, eventhough checkerboard rendered. Afterall, LG’s 4K tv’s are actually 3K but a board declared it 4K, why is checkerboard any different? Doesn’t matter to me though, I’m not supporting mid-gen upgrades. I’ll wait until the next Xbox and next PlayStation to get another console. I’m fine with the Xbox One S/base PS4 combo for now, but I’ll get a Switch once more games are availlable for that console.

      Because that’s what gaming is all about, right? Actual GAMES to play.

    • Living While Alive

      If anyone wants to prove that he’s wrong for me, go ahead.

      I’m done.

      I’m not about to go in-depth on elementary knowledge such as graphical settings, resolution, etc.

      You’re just too dumb for me to continue.

      For sending you links won’t do a thing because by you’re response.

      You clearly don’t know what your talking about aka lack basic understanding aka don’t do research aka don’t study aka don’t read.

      Reading is fundamental.

    • Barricade_BE

      Yup, I’m the uneducated one. Nice nametag in your profile picture you have there. Not important enough for them to know your name? Obviously you’re so successful in life and you know what you’re talking about. I think I know more about graphical settings, resolution etc than you. And I also know more about nomenclature and jargon so it seems.

      Here, I’ll prove you wrong. Google ‘UltraHD 1080p’ and tell me what you see. What? Only comparisons between the two? So.. you mean like it’s either or? Damn. Go figure, who knew? 1080p Ultra settings isn’t the same as Ultra HD 1080p, idiot.

    • crazy_black_man-

      He’s an Xbox insider. He gets Xbox points for using deception to coerce naive fools into “jumping in” with them.

    • Smart guy

      Lol this guy

    • Jagosix

      WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE TITLE POST. !!!!! Again …Stick to the subject. The Xbox Scorpio Is The Ultimate Exemplification Of Microsoft’s Commitment To Backward Compatibility.
      All they’re saying is that Microsoft is doing a way better job at Backwards compatibility than Sony and not charging for it like SONY is.
      Wow…. you sure know how to tell people where mind is at.

    • Gamez Rule

      “Microsoft’s Commitment To Backward Compatibility” is all good for people that use backward compatibility, but what I want due to already owning the Xbone console is *current gen games* that are full exclusives only playable on Xbone consoles, and not just platform exclusives. I have 360 to play older games on including games that are not on Xbone BC listings..

      Where are all the new IP’s and AAA games that are full exclusives as well as first party games? We are now into the fourth month of 2017 and still nothing from MS while Sony has released game after game for PS4.

    • Jagosix

      Just go and read Digital Foundry post about the Scorpio. They have the actual hands on facts. NOT speculation.
      It’s TRUE 4k gaming, not the checker boarding crap.

    • Barricade_BE

      That wasn’t the point I was trying to make. Where exactly did I say Scorpio isn’t true 4K? (And I don’t believe every game will be 4k but we’ll see, I guess.) Please read what I said before replying to it.

      Also, checkerboard-rendering isn’t crap. It’s not as good as native 4K but it’s way better than just regular upscaling. Go read the article about it on Digital Foundry.

    • Rebelox

      Yes the Scorpio is better, but only if you u have invested a lot of time and money in Forza and Halo and your back library on the Xbox 360.. and we all know that not all games Xbox 360 games are automatically backwards compatible with the Xbox One, so why should the Xbox One games be automatically compatible with the Xbox Scorpio?

      The rest of the games are also available on the PS4 and PS4 Pro. Who is gonna buy the same games they have on the PS4 Pro again on the Xbox Scorpio? I’m not..

      You also forget that the Scorpio is already lagging behind by more than 1 year by the time it gets released.. which means it will take at least 3 more years to get on the same level as Sony regarding saleswise by then.

      Keep in mind that the current console generation will end in about 2 to 3 years.

      You can almost time your clock on it that there will be a PS5 within the next 2 years. Which means people are gonna keep playing their PS Pro untill Sony feels the need to make a PS5.

      The Scorpio is a continuation of the same failing Xbox brand we have seen up till now with the backwards compatibility extended to the Xbox One.

      Look.. why would people buy the Scorpio (minimum $500) if they can play the backwards compatible games on the cheaper Xbox One-S for $200? Or even on the original Xbox One?

      The Xbox Scorpio has a 4k blu ray player.. and the Xbox One-S also has a 4k blu ray player.. so what’s the point in buying a Scorpio?

      Do you want to pay $400 extra for a 4k blu ray player?

      People will just buy an Xbox One-S at $150-$200 for the same 4k blu ray player that’s in the Xbox Scorpio..

      Convince me why i need a Xbox Scorpio.. please.

    • Jagosix

      Again …Stick to the Tittle POST. The Xbox Scorpio Is The Ultimate Exemplification Of Microsoft’s Commitment To Backward Compatibility.
      All they’re saying is that Microsoft is doing a way better job at Backwards compatibility than Sony and not charging for it like SONY is.

    • Rebelox

      That was a response to *Livingwhilealive..

    • Rebelox

      Which developers are you talking about? If there won’t be Japanese developers making games on the Xbox who is gonna care for the games on the Scorpio?

      PS4 owners are not suddenly gonna like Forza or Halo just because the Scorpio released.. they didn’t like those games before and they won’t like the games now.

      It’s the same Forza, Halo turd.. but in 4k. So the turd is more detailed and runs in 60 fps/4k.. but it’s still the same recycled, money milking, microsoft garbage.

    • ArdentClutter

      Sega and their Sonic milking turd machine would like to have a word with you on that front.

    • C. Hoffer

      M$ has already announced how many consoles they expect to sell this year (of Scorpio). The answer was not as many as you would think.
      I’m of the opinion that they will sell more than they forecast simply because any One/S console user that has any cash flow and 1/2 a brain will dump the old POS for the faster unit just so that they can play the current games without lag or feeling like the game is held back by the system.

  • Jimmy DoneGood

    Sony is not good with bc. All current and future ps4 games won’t carry forward. Sony will want to charge you for them.

    • Jannieaspaeth

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    • Rebelox

      Why would i buy the 4k games i have on my PS Pro again on the xbox Scorpio? It makes no sense to me as a PS4 Pro owner.

      The Scorpio will not win over the people who already own a PS4 Pro, it might convince people who don’t own a PS4 Pro but do have a 4k TV.

      Basically the 4k virgins.. people who have never played in 4k will be interested in the Scorpio. But even if that group buys the Scorpio, they will be soon dissapointed by the lack of games on the Scorpio..

      Upgrading hardware is one thing but how about making great games? Making games is the really really hard part.. because game development takes a lot of time and money.

      Microsoft just doesn’t have the creative juice to develop games on the level Sony does. Don’t forget that Sony is also an entertainment company that makes movies, series, music etc..

      When it comes to making games Sony has a large pool of IP and a large catalog of content to draw inspiration from, unlike Microsoft that has to rehash and reuse old content.

    • bardock5151

      1300 odd games translates to a lack of games?

    • Rebelox

      That’s a lot of games.. but i don’t play older games that often. I am actually playing the newer games on the PS Pro, i am done with playing old games..

      Look, Microsoft’s Scorpio will really have to impress me to sway me away from my PS4 Pro.

    • Jagosix

      There’s nothing wrong with playing older games. Specifically, older games you haven’t play at all. To each his/her own. Play what you want.

    • Barricade_BE

      Sony has over 1500 games and that’s without BC or PS2 classics. The Vita has over 1400 games. Number of games means nothing if the games that are out aren’t compelling. I love some of MS’ franchises (Gears = bae) but when comparing to the variety the competitors offer, they fall short.
      Horizon is the best experience I’ve had with gaming in a long time.

      This next year is looking good though, with Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, Cuphead and more (Forza Motorsport 7 is as good as a given). But let’s be honest, when was the last time we had this kind of variety on our Xbox?

    • Jagosix

      Nobody is asking you to re-purchase games you already have. Duh… Really. Speaking of rehashes.. where have you been .. Sony also has boat load of rehashes too.. so please, spare me. Don’t forget, MicroSoft is a software company that makes Windows (90% of the computer market in the World). Which you’re probably using right now. As a fact Microsoft pockets are way deeper than Sony. So please, don’t compare the 2. Microsoft is a Bigger company than Sony in so many ways you have no idea.
      P.S. Just stick to the title POST

    • ArdentClutter

      “When it comes to making games Sony has a large pool of IP and a large
      catalog of content to draw inspiration from, unlike Microsoft that has
      to rehash and reuse old content.”

      MS owns quite a few IPs. They are bringing back a very old IP they had. It’s coming out on steam and on the xbone. It’s called voodo vince. Same with phantom dust. Those two IPs were on the original xbox. By that very statement you can say Sega and Sonic. Nintendo and Mario, Zelda etc.

    • Rebelox


      All the games you play on your PS4 are also forward compatible with the PS4 Pro.

      Same like all Xbox One games are compatible with the Scorpio.

      So what’s your point? You are saying nothing here..

    • Marytlash

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    • Edward Turvey

      Sony used to be good with BC. Their PS2 being mostly compatible with PS1 games and early 60GB models of the PS3 were back compatible with PS2 and PS1 games, plus every PS3 can play PS1 games too. They seems to have taken on a new attitude since their introduction of PS Now.

    • Barricade_BE

      Nah, Sony didn’t have BC built in in the PS4 because of the difficult architecture of the PS3 and to include the cell processor in the PS4 would have meant a big price increase.
      That’s also an explanation as to why they don’t follow MS on their BC strategy. It’s too hard to emulate a PS3, it’s not as easy as porting Xbox 360 games to Xbox One.

      PS Now only came later.

      I’m hoping next gen consoles will include ‘native’ (hardware-based) BC, as the architecture in the PS4/Xbox One isn’t too hard to include (a better version) in the future consoles.

    • Edward Turvey

      They could have still had PS1 and PS2 games via emulation.

    • Barricade_BE

      Because BC that covers more than one generation is so common, right?

      Would it have been a nice feature? Sure! I have tons of PSOne and PS2 games laying around! But is it necessary? Not really, there are a lot of quality titles out there without BC.

    • Edward Turvey

      I would rather have it and not need than need it and not have it. Giving your platform as many features and options as possible is always advantageous. Sony really have to re-look at their backward compatibility strategy.

    • Mr Xrat

      The architecture of the PS4 is designed for future intercompatibility, Mongoose.

      All you’re gonna have on the Shitpio is Sneak King at 4K. Pathetic.

  • Barry Harden

    Micro$oft needed to cuz the XBone has no games. What else will XBone owners play without BC?

    • ArdentClutter

      Idk, sea of thieves, recore, QB, forza, gears, halo, state of decay 2, crackdown, phantom dust, and whatever else they say in E3.

    • C. Hoffer

      I played 1/2 of those you named (plus some others not named).
      ugh…I wish I had waited until Scorpio had come out. The One/S is such a let down.

    • Barricade_BE

      ReCore is a big disappointment though (for me personally at least), Quantum Break didn’t live up to it’s hype and although it was flawed, I personally enjoyed it a lot. Phantum Dust is not the game we were promised, it even uses the same assets as when it originally launched, I’m curious about pricing on that one.

      Sea of Thieves looks like it could be my game of the year for my Xbox, Crackdown 3 looks promising but I’m on a wait and see approach on that one. I’m not too sure how the regular Xbox will handle that game as I’m thinking they developed that with Scorpio in mind.

      You forgot Cuphead though, that looks like a lot of fun!

      State of Decay 2 depends on what other games on different consoles are launching around that time on wheter I’ll get it or not.

  • Holeybartender

    Complaining about having to rebuy games you already own is such a tired complaint. If you already own them then you obviously still have the console to play it and even the 4K tvs still have AV connections on them. Why do you have to rebuy games to play PS 1 & 2 games? Easy answer,you don’t.

  • Mr Xrat

    Looking at that library and the drying “BC” announcments, I wonder about that “commitment.”

    • Fweds

      Your going into meltdown over Scorpio, your posts are comical.


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