Microsoft has announced that they will be shutting down the Xbox 360 store on 29th July 2024, bringing an end to close to two decades of digital game buying on their most successful home console.
Additionally, the Microsoft Movies & TV app will no longer work on the Xbox 360, cutting off TV and movie content in its entirety on the ageing consoles.
However, this will not affect the ability to continue playing digital Xbox 360 games or DLC that are purchased prior to that cut off point, and backward compatible games on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S will still be available to purchase. This is purely affecting the Xbox 360 console’s ability to buy games and DLC.
In the announcement post, Dave McCarthy, CVP Xbox Player Services says, “What has not changed is our commitment to preserving your ability to play the content you have already purchased on your preferred device, which means we are committed to supporting Xbox 360 gameplay for the foreseeable future – and you will still be able to play and re-download previously purchased content and connect with friends.”
Further to that, a brief FAQ confirms that cloud saves will still be active, and progress can carry over between console generations with backward compatibility, and that this does not affect online multiplayer servers, which are dependent on the game publisher’s support. Xbox Live will still support the 360.
Microsoft’s decision to shut down the Xbox 360 store comes following similar moves by Sony and Nintendo. Nintendo has closed the Nintendo eShop for both Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Wii U this year, while the Wii Shopping Channel closed down in 2019. Sony had announced in 2021 their intention to shut down the PS3 and PS Vita versions of the PlayStation Store, but U-turned after fan pushback online.
The key difference for Xbox is that there is the healthy backward compatibility programme for Xbox One and Series X|S. While it doesn’t include the entire Xbox 360 library, it does mean that hundreds of the biggest games for the 360 will still be available for purchase on modern gaming systems. The same cannot be said Nintendo or PlayStation, where store closures can and do pretty much completely remove access to entire generations of video games.
That said, there are still plenty of glaring holes in the Xbox backward compatibility line-up, with Microsoft eventually finding it difficult or impossible to get the agreements needed to bring games forward to newer hardware. Sometimes publishers had totally shut down and game rights vanished into the aether, other times they might not want their game to be included, and there’s plenty of games that are removed from sale after a certain period as licenses for content (usually music) expires.