How to access Xbox 360 titles on the New Xbox One Experience with backwards compatibility

The New Xbox One Experience is finally here, and we're running a series of quick how-to guides for the uninitiated!

In this guide, we'll be showing you how to access your existing Xbox 360 discs and downloads, and where to purchase additional digital titles that are part of the Xbox One backwards compatibility list.

For those who might be unaware, it's important to note that backwards compatibility is limited to the 104 titles listed below. In our recent interview with Xbox platform lead Mike Ybarra, he emphasised that Microsoft are keen to add new titles on a regular basis. It's ultimately up to publishers, IP holders and developers whether or not their games end up as part of the Xbox backwards compatibility lineup, but it seems most major publishers are on board.

Below is a list of the titles that are available today as part of the first wave. Microsoft has already teased Halo Reach, Halo Wars, Skate 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Bioshock 1, 2 and Infinite for the second wave. Microsoft has also committed to providing backwards compatible Xbox 360 titles as part of the Games with Gold free titles promotion - that means Xbox Live subscribers on Xbox One will receive four playable titles for free every month.

Here's the list so far:

  • A Kingdom for Keflings
  • A World of Keflings
  • Alien Hominid HD
  • Assassin's Creed II
  • Asteroids & Deluxe
  • Banjo Kazooie®: Nuts & Bolts
  • Banjo-Kazooie®
  • Banjo-Tooie®
  • BattleBlock Theater
  • Bejeweled 2
  • Bellator: MMA Onslaught
  • Beyond Good & Evil HD
  • Blood of the Werewolf
  • BloodRayne: Betrayal
  • Borderlands
  • Call of Juarez® Gunslinger
  • Castle Crashers
  • CastleStorm
  • Centipede & Millipede
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins
  • Crazy Taxi™
  • Deadliest Warrior: Legends
  • Defense Grid: The Awakening
  • DiRT 3
  • DiRT Showdown
  • Discs of Tron
  • Doom
  • Doom II
  • Dungeon Siege III
  • Earthworm Jim HD
  • Fable II
  • Fallout 3
  • Feeding Frenzy
  • Feeding Frenzy 2: Shipwreck Showdown
  • Gears of War
  • Gears of War 2
  • Gears of War 3
  • Gears of War: Judgment
  • Golden Axe™
  • Halo: Spartan Assault
  • Hardwood Backgammon®
  • Hardwood Hearts®
  • Hardwood Spades®
  • Heavy Weapon
  • Hexic HD
  • Ikaruga
  • Jetpac Refuelled
  • Joy Ride Turbo
  • Just Cause 2
  • Kameo™: Elements of Power
  • LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
  • Lode Runner™
  • Mass Effect™
  • Metal Slug 3
  • Metal Slug XX
  • Might & Magic Clash of Heroes™
  • Mirror's Edge™
  • Missile Command
  • Monday Night Combat
  • Monkey Island: Special Edition
  • Monkey Island 2: Special Edition
  • Ms. Splosion Man™
  • Mutant Blobs Attack!!!
  • N+
  • NBA JAM: On Fire Edition
  • NiGHTS into dreams…
  • Operation Flashpoint™: Dragon Rising
  • Pac-Man: Championship Edition™
  • Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX+
  • Perfect Dark
  • Perfect Dark Zero
  • Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds
  • Pinball FX™
  • Plants vs. Zombies
  • Prince of Persia
  • Putty Squad
  • Rayman 3 HD
  • R-Type Dimensions™
  • Sacred Citadel
  • Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co.
  • Sega Vintage Collection: Golden Axe
  • Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World
  • Sega Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage
  • Shadow Complex
  • Sonic CD
  • Sonic The Hedgehog
  • Sonic The Hedgehog 2
  • Sonic The Hedgehog 3
  • Super Meat Boy
  • Supreme Commander 2
  • Tom Clancy's RainbowSix Vegas
  • Tom Clancy's RainbowSix Vegas 2
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth™
  • Torchlight
  • Toy Soldiers
  • Toy Soldiers: Cold War
  • Tron: Evolution
  • Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon
  • Viva Piñata
  • Viva Piñata: Trouble In Paradise
  • Wolfenstein 3D
  • Zuma

Xbox 360 games from the disc

Backwards compatibility runs on a Xbox 360 software emulator. When you insert a compatible Xbox 360 disc, an icon for the game will appear in the Xbox One recent apps list, below the main tile. The game will then install to your hard drive, using the disc for license verification. Once complete, you can boot up the game as you would normally either via the recent apps list on the dashboard or your installed games list - found at the bottom of the main dashboard menu.

Digital Xbox 360 games

To access games you've purchased digitally, they'll appear in your games list on the far right under "Ready to Install". The only way to get to this area is to scroll all the way across to the right. Select a title by hitting the A button, you'll then be prompted to confirm installation. Once installed, it'll appear in your games list ready to play.

Purchasing new Xbox 360 games for backwards compatibility

As of writing, there's sadly no way to purchase backwards compatible Xbox 360 games via the Xbox One itself. They won't appear in Xbox One search results, and there's no section dedicated to it on the store. If you want to pick up any of the games on the list you don't already own digitally, your best bet is to head to the Xbox Store and do a quick search. Alternatively, you can always purchase the discs from retailers.

Using the Xbox 360 emulator

The Xbox 360 emulator on the Xbox One functions a little differently to the 360 itself. Naturally, you can't access the 360 dashboard - the emulator behaves as if you're running a game.

Pressing both the View and Menu buttons (perhaps more commonly known as Start and Select) on the Xbox One controller will open up the Xbox 360 guide when you're inside a backwards compatible game. You can access some basic settings using the guide, including online status and notifications. You can also configure your cloud saves by going to the storage option.

If you want to bring your Xbox 360 save files over to your Xbox One some of you might want to continue playing saves stored on your 360. If you have an Xbox Live subscription, you can upload the your save files to your personal cloud via your Xbox 360's storage menu, they should then appear as part of the save files when running the game in the Xbox One emulator. Note that cloud saves only upload once you've exited a game, so give it a little while. You can check the sync status using the storage menu, found in the Xbox 360 guide.

While in the emulator, you can use most Xbox One system functions, such as game DVR, Twitch streaming, screenshots and Xbox One party chat. Xbox 360 games on Xbox One behave almost exactly like regular Xbox One games, so be sure to start sharing those clips!

The Future

As mentioned, Mike Ybarra from the Xbox platform team stated they hope to have a monthly release cadence for new backwards compatible titles. It'll ultimately depend on publishers and IP holders whether or not those games get included, but you can make your requests heard on the official Xbox One UserVoice page. Microsoft is also working to solve issues with games that are spread across multiple discs, such as Lost Odyssey and Mass Effects 2 and 3.

What backwards compatible Xbox 360 titles do you want to see in the coming months? I can see myself finishing the Mass Effect trilogy again before Andromeda hits next year.

If you think this guide is helpful, we have many more posts like this in our Xbox help, tips, and tricks page.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!