Microsoft on Monday surprised the video game world with news that its Xbox One console will be able to play old Xbox 360 games. Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox at Microsoft, explained at the E3 gaming conference how backward compatibility was one of the most requested features for Xbox owners. Microsoft has listened to its fans, Spencer said, and will deliver the feature later this year.
Aside from granting Microsoft permission, game developers don't have to do anything extra to make their games backward compatible. Xbox One preview members can play a selection of titles starting today, but everyone else will have to wait until this later this year. While no firm date was announced, Microsoft said that over 100 Xbox 360 titles will be available to play on the Xbox One sometime this holiday season.
Microsoft has announced a new controller for the Xbox One, set to debut later this year. Dubbed the Xbox elite Wireless, it's all about customization: you can swap out the analog sticks and re-assign the various buttons to perform new actions. Fans of first-person shooters will appreciate being able to adjust the sensitivity on the triggers.
EA Access is the publisher's subscription service that provides members with free access to a selection of games, discounts on digital content, and early access to new games. It's currently available only on Xbox One.
Microsoft announced a partnership to support the Valve virtual-reality system.
The news comes just days after Microsoft partnered with Oculus to provide a bundle an Xbox controller with every Oculus Rift headset. Between Oculus, Valve and its own HoloLens augmented-reality headset, the company is backing all of the major players in virtual reality.
Microsoft also showed off its own HoloLens headset in a demonstration of a customized version of Minecraft built to handle augment reality. A virtual simulation of a Minecraft world emerged out of a real wooden table, allowing the person using the headset to manipulate the world and switch perspectives.
Microsoft's HoloLens is an ambitious device designed to float 3D images made only of light in front of our eyes. The headset contains speakers for audio output and a large number of cameras and sensors for mapping the environment and tracking the user's body and head movements.
The HoloLens will run a version of Windows 10 software, Microsoft says. That will allow developers to design so-called universal apps that can run on the HoloLens as well as the PC, the Xbox One game console, Surface tablets and Windows smartphones. The project is expected to be released within the Windows 10 timeframe, Microsoft executives have said repeatedly. Whether that means this year or within the entire lifespan of Windows 10, which could be many years, is unclear.