Backward compatibility is a big draw for console gamers nostalgic for older titles, but new data shows that Xbox One players don’t spend much time revisiting backward-compatible Xbox 360 games.
A new Ars Technica report that grabbed stats from nearly a million Xbox Live users showed that, on the Xbox One, only 1.5 percent of these gamers’ time is spent revisiting Xbox 360 titles. “Microsoft said in late 2015 that Xbox One users had spent nine million hours playing Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One in its first month or so of availability. That may sound like a big number, but it averages out to just a few minutes of playtime for each of the tens of millions of Xbox One owners out there,” Ars Technica explains, adding, “In our sample, Xbox Live users on Xbox One averaged about 23.9 minutes with backward compatible games over 4.5 months.”
Microsoft introduced backward compatibility to the Xbox One in 2015, but only on a game-by-game basis. The announcement at E3 proved wildly popular. Ever since, a slow-drip of 360 games has migrated to the Xbox One’s store each week. But despite the initial hype, Ars Technica’s sample of Xbox Live users on the Xbox One betrays less enthusiasm for older games.
Call of Duty: Black Ops was the most popular backward-compatible Xbox 360 game in Ars Technica’s September to February sample, but only three out of every thousand Xbox One users plays it. And Black Ops is an outlier—Rayman Origins and Skate 3, the next two most-played Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One, are played only one-third as much. Ars Technica reports that “The hundreds of backward compatible Xbox 360 games combine to represent less than half of the play time that a game like Grand Theft Auto V manages on its own.”
It’s worth noting that the data doesn’t stretch to April, when Call of Duty: Black Ops II became backward-compatible with the Xbox One and led to an explosion in its player-base.
Earlier this week, Sony executive Jim Ryan made some controversial comments to Time about backward-compatibility generally: “When we’ve dabbled with backward compatibility, I can say it is one of those features that is much requested, but not actually used much.” He went on to say that Playstation 1 and 2 games look “ancient,” and asked, “Why would anybody play this?”
Ryan’s assessment of the desirability of backward compatibility was criticized widely by lovers of classic games, including Kotaku’s Chris Kohler, who argues that titles like Suikoden II still do look very good. While the Xbox One and PS4 are different platforms, this new data discovered by Ars Technica reinforces the idea that sometimes, enthusiasm for the idea of a huge catalog of older games games doesn’t reflect extensive actual playtime.