June 17, 2013 at 3:27 PM ET
As if often the case with next-generation consoles, Microsoft irked some gamers when it declared that the Xbox One won't be able to run old Xbox 360 games. But what about its compatibility with the Xbox 360 in its entirety?
Now that's a console of a different color. Speaking in an interview for the Reddit Games YouTube channel, Xbox Live director of programming Larry Hryb (better known by his online moniker Major Nelson) said that the Xbox One's compatibility with the Xbox 360 was one of his "first questions" when he heard about the console's HDMI plug-in features, noting that gamers would "absolutely" be able to attach the two consoles.
The Xbox One's HDMI functionality was originally touted by Microsoft as a way for next-generation console owners to turn the device into an entertainment hub — absorbing, say, a cable or set-top box into the rest of Microsoft's gaming and TV-friendly ecosystem. But Major Nelson suggested that, for the hacker-friendly gaming crowd (meaning most gamers), the Xbox One's HDMI port can also be used to add everything from an Xbox 360 to a Windows 8 PC.
So the Xbox One still won't support Xbox 360 games. But at least the console will be backwards compatible with the Xbox 360 in its entirety? Maybe this is what Don Mattrick meant to say when he called Microsoft's current-generation console the hardware for anyone who doesn’t want to put up with mandatory online checks every 24 hours.
Among other things, Microsoft raised the hackles of gamers ever since it first debuted the Xbox One for the company's unresponsiveness on the question of backwards compatibility with previous console generations. Xbox fans have invested nearly a decade into their current-generation systems, after all, and it's hard to throw that all away overnight for a vague an untested next-generation platform.
Other than a quick comment which amounts to no, the Xbox One will not support Xbox 360 games, Microsoft hasn't sounded all too invested in the issue. Microsoft executive and Xbox One chief Don Mattrick even called his company's Xbox 360 console a low-tech alternative to the Xbox One "for people who aren't able to get some form of connectivity" to suit the new console's controversial online requirements.
Like Mattrick, Nelson was pressed on the question of why his company chose to stand behind this kind of exceedingly unpopular DRM — a choice that gave Sony a populist edge throughout this year's E3. And like Mattrick, Nelson emphasized that there is an "upside [to] being connected," though gamers may not be able to appreciate all of these prospective benefits quite yet.
What exactly all those benefits are, however, remains to be seen.
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.