Xbox Series S and Backwards Compatibility - What You Need to Know - Prima Games

Xbox Series S and Backwards Compatibility – What You Need to Know

by Lucas White

There’s a heck of a headline going around this week concerning the Xbox Series S, and it’s such an unwieldy concoction of words it’s easy to see why it has become controversial. Specifically, this matter has to do with backwards compatibility, which has become a hot topic for the Xbox brand due to Microsoft’s expansive support. But the two Xbox Series SKUs have caused some confusion. But in reality, this matter isn’t as big a deal as it may seem, despite the confusing wording.

Xbox Series S Backwards Compatibility Guide

Basically, the Xbox Series X won’t be able to run the Xbox One X versions of backwards compatible games. Instead, it will run the Xbox One S versions. For a while, it seemed like this meant the Xbox Series S, which is already the budget-friendly next-gen console, would be a fairly significant downgrade compared to the Xbox Series X. But that isn’t really the case.

Related: All Xbox Cloud Gaming Titles Available on Day One

The Xbox Series X and S have fairly similar hardware, but the GPU is the biggest difference, which is a huge source of the disparity here. So, there will be a slight difference to how backwards compatibility works, which is in line with the rest of either systems’ capabilities. Basically, it boils down to whether or not you want to play your games in 4K. And if you’re buying a Series S, you probably aren’t going after that anyway.

When the Xbox One X came out, certain backwards-compatible games had the “enhanced for Xbox One X” label, which meant those games, either Xbox or Xbox 360 titles, had boosted resolutions, some of them up to 4K. There were also performance boosts, and other nifty bonuses. But, the Series S also has less RAM than the Xbox One X, which is a limiting factor here.

The Xbox Series S can run media in 4K, and is targeting up to 1440p in resolution with upscaling options for 4K displays. But it won’t be running any game content natively at 4K. That’s going to be the case with backwards compatibility as well. Basically, the Series S will run the One S versions of legacy titles, but with a stronger base performance due to the innate differences between those two platforms.

In sum, don’t be alarmed by the weird jargon caused by all these different Xbox SKUs. Backwards compatibility will be available on either Xbox Series platform, but only the more expensive one will display them at 4K. And if you’re trying to save a few hundred dollars because you don’t have a 4K TV, then you’ll still be good to go with all your older games (minus the disc part).

What do you think about the differences between the two new Xbox platforms, readers? Do you think the compromises for the Series S are appropriately reflected in its price compared to the Series X? Let us know what you think over at the Prima Games Twitter and Facebook channels!