Survey: Just 1.5% Of Time Spent On Xbox One Is Playing Backwards Compatible Games

Ars Technica have run a survey of one million Xbox One gamers over five months which recorded their gaming habits and has found that only a tiny percentage of them play backwards compatible games.

Just 1.5% of all game time was spent playing the library over over 300 backwards compatible games, with Call of Duty: Black Ops being the most played title. However, it is the only backwards compatible game to feature in the top 100 Xbox One apps.

Sony’s Jim Ryan recently said that although backwards compatibility was much requested, it was barely used and these stats do seem to back him up. However, now that both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are based on PC architecture the next iterations of the consoles should be able to handle this generation’s games without too much trouble.

Source: Ars Technica

Written by
News Editor, very inappropriate, probs fancies your dad.


  1. Probably 5% for me, on just one game, which I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to play.

  2. I imagine the number of people using the 4K Bluray drive will be similar.

    • Indeed. Sony know this, and focus efforts where it matters, not going for cheap PR grabbing stunts like 4k Blu-ray (obsolete) and BC (niche)

  3. And I wonder how much time, effort and money was spent on backwards compatibility. At least enough for one or two 1st exclusives. Which I something the Xbox one is lacking. Sony made the right call. I was considering getting a Scorpio but then I realised that all the games I want are on PS4. My Xbox one barely gets touched any more.

    • Ditto. I Have no regrets about trading-in my XB1. I can’t recall a single XB1 exclusive game in recent memory that isn’t Halo/Gears/Forza related. Three franchises long overdue for retirement (Forza not so much).

      If it wasn’t for Sunset OD and Tomb Raider, both of which should have been multi-platform anyway (and would have sold better on Playstation), I’d probably regret having even considered buying one in the first place.

      I hope MS invest in some decent games for Scorpio, for their sake.

      • You think they should retire their best selling series? Great advice JR! And Sunset Overdrive was offered to Sony. They turned it down. Blame Sony for that one.

      • I’m not attacking you personally Starman, unless your real name is Phil.

        It is their best selling series but only because there’s nothing else. They should be investing in new ideas and new games, not riding their most popular ones into the ground.

        I think we can all agree that (with the exception of Forza) the games have become progressively worse with each new release.

      • Nothing else? Unless you don’t work I don’t see how anyone could actually run out of games to play. There’s games out every week and with a gold sub you’re getting 4 a month on top of that. Lack of games on Xbox is a myth. There’s hundreds.

      • Lack of good games is Xbox reality. Multiplats look and play better on PS4, Xbox excludisives (the there are worth playing) look at play better on PC Xbox games/steam.

        There isn’t a whole lot of reason to own at Xbox one, aside from perhaps wanting 4k Hollywood trash on disk.

  4. In the last 6 months i can honestly say the amount of time spent playing any games on my Xbox is exactly 0%. All its used for these days is Plex or Netflix. Where are the games MS???

  5. Just 1.5% of time? That is still quite a bit of time.

    • In absolute terms I don’t doubt it adds up but in ROI (Return On Investment) terms that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

      Then again, it does add another feather to their cap and it’s not always about the technical bits & bobs but what it conjures in our minds when looking to buy a console, etc.

    • It’s the smallest use of Xbox by far. Xb1 games are 55%, Netflix about 16%, the second lowest is YouTube, which is still used more than 4 times as much as backwards compatible games.

    • How many of this 1.5% felt inclined to vote yes, but reality is a no?

      Also, as the generation progresses, that number is going to drop further…

      • That’s not how they came up with that 1.5% figure. They didn’t ask people, they just had a list of 74m Gamertags and used some API to get data from MS on 1m of those.

        Which removes the main factor that could affect the results (people lying or getting things wrong), but does mean they didn’t have data from anyone who hasn’t been online.

  6. Not hugely surprising. I found the b/c handy initially when the PS3 launch library was so sparse but i never used it again after those first few months.

  7. Anything positive in this report or just running down Xbox as usual? Doesn’t bode well for ps now either.

    • Or PS2 games backward compatiblity. But then as I’ve mentioned below, the figures are ridiculous. Not indicative of thirty or so million players, let alone the sixty or so million players on PS4 who have an opinion whether they have the feature or not.

      Still, on the bright side, Jim Ryan has fans. Hmm.

      • For my money, I’d really like us to move over to a system like Steam where new hardware takes old hardware into consideration (and the OS, etc.) so that we can access everything (give or take a pinch) from an ever-growing and ever-ageing library of games.

        This feels especially pertinent as we move to a digitally delivered ecosystem and disc-sales proportionately fade.

      • Figures are not ridiculous at all, over a million players sampled, 3% of the entire user base. That’s a huge amount for a sample size.

        Compare that to a YouGov election poll that samples 1,000 people out of 65 million.

        Or ten cats who were asked if they liked Whiskas.

        Or indeed then few people (almost certainly less than fifty) that Microsoft asked in a survey which then claimed Xbox Live was the fastest and most reliable.

        Also no one is running down xbox, it’s just a survey that came to light which backed up a comment from Sony, so is relevant.

      • Indeed. Just because a feature isn’t used a lot doesn’t mean it’s not valued still. Each time a big 360 game has been added it’s had a big sales spike. YouTube was second last on the list but I can’t imagine a console not having YouTube on it now.

      • Nintendo seem to think differently :)

    • To be fair, the article doesn’t point and laugh and also highlights why it really might not be worth it for any platform.

      • Well I did know it would be TC doing the article as he always picks up on negative Xbox news. Not being used a lot shouldn’t be an excuse to ignore features in future. YouTube was low on the list but there’d be an uproar if the Scorpio didn’t have it. I remember articles when the Xbox one launched saying it should’ve had it at launch.

      • It’s not an attack piece, and it’s been something that’s been reported quite widely. Even if a fairly inaccurate figure, it’s also rather interesting to consider in the overarching debate over BC, remasters, Virtual Console, streaming services and more.

        Either way, BC can only be seen as a positive for Xbox. Sure, it only has 1.5% usage, but that’s not necessarily the point, as it makes Microsoft look good. I’d be very surprised if PS2 classics or PS Now get anywhere near a whole integer of usage on PS4.

        All of these features can help get someone through the door, but it’s then new games that drive further engagement and actually make manufacturers money.

      • Interesting to note the difference in responses to this, a survey by an independent company detailing how they came to their sample and the below, a claim with no information on sample size, selection methods, questions asked etc etc :

        But now it’s “Waaah you’re running down Xbox as usual” …

  8. One million of nearly thirty million is not exactly comprehensive.

    Considering certain games are filled with lots of the players in the online component, players that are on an Xbox One, I’m inclined to think it’s worth it.

    I’ve played a ton of BC games myself, and I’d personally love to be able to play a lot of PS3 games on PS4. There were so many titles in the backlog that I missed out on towards the end of PS3.

    • As a study, one million gamers is a huge slice even if it feels small in comparison to the overall consumer-base. However, it’s important that those one million gamers are of a diverse range (especially with age) as younger gamers might be more inclined to ignore older titles.

      • It’s a completely random selection of those who have been online, but potentially biased towards those with more friends. Looks like they’ve made the list by crawling outwards from a small set of users and finding their friends, and then friends of those friends, and so on, until they’ve either got the maximum number of users they can deal with, or they find Kevin Bacon.

        Are younger gamers more likely to be included that way? Possibly, but I can’t see it being enough of a problem to invalidate any conclusions.

    • If you read the Ars Technica article, they actually go into quite a lot of detail about how they did it.

      They’ve got a list of almost 74 million users (a third more than the number of active users MS claim), but anyone who has never been online won’t be on it, and people with less friends are less likely to be included.

      And while a million out of that many might not sound much, it’s actually a very large sample. All those polls about the election tomorrow? A much smaller sample of the electorate.

      So the conclusions they make from all that data might not be completely accurate. The numbers for Kinect Adventures apparently suggest the number of 360s sold was 112m, so about a third more than were actually sold.

      Which all means that when they say people are playing 360 games on the XBone just 1.5% of the time, it could quite easily be twice that. Or half that. So somewhere between 0.75 and 3%.

      Sounds like a huge difference, but either way it means “hardly anyone is using it”.

      • You can compare it to other surveys all you like, it’s not indicative just because it’s mildly diverse. If you want diverse, survey everyone.

        Passing off 1.5% figure as a fact is ridiculous, as most surveys tend to be. One survey once attempted to evaluate the belief of the UK population on the basis of 1536 people. Utter shit.

        I remember I was recommended to do a survey for one of my dissertations too, recommended to do around twenty people to back up a point. Flimsy. I left it, kept to the theoretical with basis of fact. I wasn’t going to pass off an important argument with twenty people. It would be embarrassingly naive.

      • No, the 1.5% figure can’t possibly be claimed as a “fact”. There are obviously some flaws in how they came up with that number.

        What is a very likely to be a fact is “a very small minority of time spent on an Xbox One is playing BC games”. The actual figure could vary quite a bit from 1.5%, but it’s certainly “very small”.

        Not on the level of certain scientific theories that everyone’s fairly sure about for decades or centuries until something better comes along, but above the level of election polls (which have quite a large sample size and can still end up wrong), and almost infinitely better than certain advertising claims (where something is better based on 60% of 84 people agreeing it is)

        The old “you didn’t do the impossible and ask everyone, therefore the result is wrong” argument is always fun though, if you don’t like the result ;)

      • It’s not old, just logical :)

        The result isn’t wrong. It’s inaccurate at best.

        Perfect piece of logic is above where Sony apparently got it. It’s not like they have a service called PS Now.

        Hence you could throw all the stats you like around, but PS Now and XB1 BC are still being supported and used quite a lot, and if people actually use the feaure they might see the uptake for themselves. It’s probably not massive, no, modern gaming is looking forward and enjoying new things, but the ability to visit previous games is widely appreciated and applauded. It’s enough that Sony and MS have thrown money into it, and I wouldn’t want to be without the option.

        I can’t help but think if the survey was accurate, it would represent this. Then again the survey is being headlined in a rather dubious manner of words across the Internet. The survey was about gaming habits, something a little broader and general.

      • So, proportionately speaking, we should ignore every survey every done about anything if the ratio is equal to or worse than this?

      • Of course it’s “inaccurate”. Everything is. That’s why you really should give some sort of measure of the errors involved.

        In this case, it’s based on actual data. So that removes people answering questions from the equation. (People are basically idiots, and they’ll lie or just get things wrong). The only problem is how the sample was chosen (the online requirement/friends thing).

        So yes, the error on that 1.5% figure could be quite large. But the end result is the same: it’s a small percentage using it.

        You could increase the sample size, even up to including everyone. But it’s probably not worth the effort, and the result would be the same.

        Same thing happens with elections. Oh no, we don’t like the results of some opinion poll, so it’s obviously wrong because you didn’t ask everyone. If you ask everyone, it’s called “an election”. We’ll have one of those tomorrow. Again.

        What you do with the result is the more interesting thing. Sony obviously think it’s a small enough number that there’s nothing to lose by not having it as a PS4 feature (and more to lose by adding it with all the extra expense the PS3 architecture would add)

        MS obviously have nothing to lose by adding it (with the similar hardware of the 360/XBone) and something to gain. Good publicity despite nobody using it? Easy way to bump up the number of games they offer every month? (Unlike Sony having to rely on the whole vita/PS3 cross-buy thing if they want more than 2 games for the PS4 a month with PS+)

        As for the reporting of it, I don’t think it’s that bad. Of course people are going to pick up on the most interesting thing to come out of it. Especially if there’s a difference between MS and Sony.

        Other conclusions such as “people use Netflix a lot” would probably be met by bored comments along the lines of “that’s nice. I wonder if the internet contains pictures of naked people? Or cat videos?”

  9. I do use the backwards compatibility but I probably fall into the 1.5% usage time.

    I’ll download an old game that pops up in my digital library play it a couple of times then never go back to it.

    Can’t bash the service, it’s a great offering but after the quick wave of nostalgia from playing an old favourite I move back to play newer titles.

  10. Finally some data showing BC is the most overhyped feature in console history. Actually, very good data indeed, it seems. Not surprised at all about the outcome. And, above all, I’m glad Sony doesn’t need to waste any further resources on BC. Whether they use them any wiser remains to be seen.

Comments are now closed for this post.