Xbox Series S backwards compatibility explained: Series S will run improved versions of the Xbox One S versions of older games, but does this matter?

Now that the Xbox Series S has been officially revealed, and at what is undoubtedly the most attractive price for a next-gen console, we're learning more and more about it.

For example, we know that the circle on the side of it is so that you can spray Game Pass at passers-by while also enjoying faster load times than ever before.

We also know that it's not the most powerful of the next-gen, but it's still going to do a lot of impressive work to modern-day games.

READ MORE: PS5 and Xbox Series X both have limited storage: How can I increase my console storage for more games?

However, the backwards compatibility is a little convoluted, or at least, that seems to be the case for some people.

The Xbox Series S doesn't play the best version of backwards compatible games

As reported on by VGC, Microsoft has explained that the Xbox Series S will be playing the Xbox One S versions of backwards compatibility.

"To deliver the highest quality backwards compatible experience consistent with the developer’s original intent, the Xbox Series S runs the Xbox One S version of backward compatible games while applying improved texture filtering, higher and more consistent frame rates, faster load times and Auto HDR."

That last bit is incredibly important. While the games themselves might be the lower-end of this strange spectrum, it's important to note that they'll be vastly improved thanks to the SSD and various other bits of tech inside the console. That means you'll still be playing much better versions of the games you love.

READ MORE: Why the Xbox Series X may have finally cracked Germany for Microsoft

Does this matter?

If you're after the best possible performance on your favourite original Xbox game, then maybe this is a dealbreaker for you and you'd rather get the Xbox Series X.

However, for the vast majority of people backwards compatibility is a nice bonus, not a selling point in and of itself. So, it's quite likely that this won't deter those who were eyeing up the Xbox Series S, because it's probably not that big of a deal.

Indeed, these games will still run as a significant improvement on the current-gen consoles, utilising the custom NVME SSD that, as explained by this Xbox blog post, is "at the heart of the Xbox Velocity Architecture."

READ MORE: Xbox marketing person asks, “Does the price of a game even matter – if it’s in Game Pass?

Xbox Series S backwards compatibility explained

Much like the Xbox Series X's backwards compatibility, the Series S is compatible with games from all three of the previous Xbox generations.

Not only that, but these games will see a significant improvement on the Series S.

Xbox has implemented a new feature called 'Auto HDR' that, according to this blog post, "automatically adds HDR enhancements to games which only shipped with SDR" without impacting the original art-style of the game and at no cost to the CPU or GPU. HDR, or high dynamic range, is a feature that allows for "a game to render a much larger range of brightness values and colors."

Aside from enhanced visual upgrades, the Xbox Series S will also utilise new, custom-designed technology to double the frame rate on select titles such as Fallout 4, bringing the framerate up from 30fps to the much better 60fps.

READ MORE: Xbox Series S vs Xbox Series X

This Article's Topics

Explore new topics and discover content that's right for you!

Have an opinion on this article? We'd love to hear it!