Microsoft Will Let You Play Your Old Xbox 360 Games on Xbox One

Halo 4

Halo 4

Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg

Microsoft Corp. is using old games to sell new copies of its Xbox One gaming console.

Owners of popular titles like “Mass Effect,” designed for the older Xbox 360, will be able to play them on the Xbox One thanks to backward compatibility, a new feature introduced by Monday at E3, the annual video-game conference in Los Angeles.

Microsoft, reviving a strategy from when the Xbox 360 was its standard-bearer, is using backward compatibility to offer Xbox One owners something they can’t get with the PlayStation 4, its primary competitor. Gamers embraced the plan on social media, with many saying they will switch consoles, or at least demand similar access from Sony Corp.

The move was “a surprise and loved by the crowd,” Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities, said in on Twitter.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, won’t charge consumers to play games they already own, executive Mike Ybarra said from the stage in Los Angeles. Game publishers at the event said they were looking forward to selling older games for the new machines.

“That’s such exciting news,” Electronic Arts Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore said. “That’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The latest Xbox machine, released in November 2013, has trailed Sony in sales. The PlayStation 4 doesn’t offer backward compatibility to play disc-based games from earlier machines, according to the company’s website. Its PlayStation Now service offers cloud-based gaming with older titles for a fee.

Hardware makers aren’t expected to introduce any major new consoles, which means this year’s convention will be more focused on new games, new features and emerging areas like virtual and augmented reality.

Microsoft previewed new versions of popular franchises “Halo,” “Fallout” and the Tom Clancy series.

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