Last night saw Microsoft drop 70 more Xbox 360 and original Xbox games into the Xbox Backward Compatibility program, but this update will be the last as licensing and legal restraints prevent them from doing more.
Tucked away in the announcement, Microsoft states that “While we continue to stay focused on preserving and enhancing the art form of games, we have reached the limit of our ability to bring new games to the catalog from the past due to licensing, legal and technical constraints.”
This was their last effort, with “Your constant requests for specific titles and enhancements encouraged the Backwards Compatibility team to partner with the original creators to preserve thousands of games from over four generations of Xbox.”
When asked by IGN, a Microsoft spokesperson said “Yes, this is the final addition of Xbox 360 and original Xbox games to the backward compatibility program. We have reached the limits of our ability to add additional games to the catalog due to licensing, legal or technical constraints. We know we’ve said this before, but we went back one more time to bring as many fan-requested titles as possible to the catalog to celebrate our 20th anniversary.”
Additionally, Microsoft has almost always ensured that games that they are adding to backward compatibility are made available for sale. This isn’t so tough for Xbox 360 games that were always available digitally, but there was obviously no online marketplace for the original Xbox. There’s a few outliers that remain delisted or are disc only, but all of the games have only been brought into the programme with the permission and cooperation of the original rights holders.
Sadly this means there are hundreds and hundreds of games that are not included. 632 Xbox 360 games have been released into backward compatibility, but that’s out of the 2154 that have been released. Similarly there’s just 63 of the 996 that were released for the original Xbox. Tons of games are missing, so anyone hoping for the venerable Project Gotham Racing series or lost classic Jet Set Radio Future to reappear will have to put those hopes to rest.