June First, 2006

A day that will live in infamy. Today I saw a story linked on Evil Avatar where Peter Moore told Xbox fans to kiss Microsoft’s feet for being so gracious as to support a few hundred games, after promising to support them all. GamesIndustry.biz reports:

“Nobody is concerned anymore about backwards compatibility. We under promised and over delivered on that. It’s a very complicated thing… very complex work. I’m just stunned that we have hundreds of games that are backwards compatible,” he said.

That doesn’t mean we won’t get more backwards-compatible games – indeed, “more are coming” – but “at some point, you just go, there’s enough, let’s move on, or people aren’t as worried about a game being backwards compatible – and I like to think we’ve upheld our end of the bargain in making at least two or maybe three hundred games backwards compat.”


“Our goal is to have every Xbox game work on Xbox 360,” Xbox PR manager Michael Wolf told GamesIndustry.biz at the time – a goal from which Microsoft now appears to have retreated significantly.

So, why will today live in infamy? Because I expect Moore to apologize before the end of the week. Apologize and assure us, again, that more games will be added to the list. And today will garner so much ill will that this begins the era when disc-based gaming machines will always support predecessors libraries. Period.

I don’t even have an Xbox360. Why not? Partially because I’m poor. When my Xbox broke a few months ago I couldn’t really be mad. It was a Thomson drive; I had gotten my money’s worth out of it. But I had to make a choice then. Would I get my Xbox fixed, or save a bit and buy a Xbox 360? Well, if I had gotten a X360, what would I have gotten? Geometry Wars and a few XBL Arcade titles that would be fun to play with friends. Maybe GRAW. But I know that I enjoyed swinging around the city in Spider-Man 2 when bored. I also like firing up Full Spectrum Warrior every now and then and, after cussing out the tutorial, playing a few levels. And god damn it Peter Moore, I like Psychonauts. You hear that Peter Moore? Psychonauts! These are the types of games you want your console associated with! Quality ones! (I still contend that if Gabe wrote up a demand and posted it on Penny Arcade that Psychonauts would be working on the X360 within a month.)

Hell, popularity isn’t even an issue. (These numbers are Xbox-only from March 2006, as found on WikiPedia.org.) On the highest-selling-Xbox-games list, numbers 13, 14, and 15; are Madden 2005, Madden 2006, and ESPN NFL 2k5. None of those games are backwards compatible. Spider-Man: The Movie and Spider-Man 2 both topped a million, but neither is supported. I’m surprised to find that Morrowind didn’t top one million for Xbox, but it’s not supported either, despite being hailed as completely kickass. (Which it was, despite the bugs.) Only the newest games in each Tony Hawk line (THPS4, THUG2, and THAW) are backwards compatible, even though the only Tony Hawk game to top 1 million is the first THUG. Hitman 2: Silent Assassin was the only Hitman game to beat a million, but Hitman: Contracts is the only one supported.

No, it’s not a matter of good games being backwards compatible, nor is it an issue of best-selling games. No, it seems that the issue is an interesting mix of convenient games, which explains lots of Tom Clancy games at once, or Barbie; and recent games. Ones that don’t have immediate sequels for the X360, but are recent enough that people may rent them and try them in their Xbox 360s. But hey, that’s just a glance, I may be wrong about that…

But I think I’m still right about one thing. Today, things changed just a little bit.