Should Microsoft make an 'Xbox Classic?' Here are some pros and cons.

Hyperkin Duke Wired Controller
Hyperkin Duke Wired Controller (Image credit: Jez Corden / Windows Central)

In November of 2016, Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Classic console to the world — a miniature version of its original gaming system bundled with several of Nintendo's most popular classic games. This mini console was a massive hit, and it became clear that there was a strong market for them.

Fast-forward to 2018, and Sony has announced the creation of its own mini console, the PlayStation Classic. With both Nintendo and Sony creating a product within this niche, it begs the question: Should Microsoft follow suit and create an "Xbox Classic" based on the original Xbox? Here are some quick pros and cons of such a move.

Read: Biggest announcements from Inside Xbox

Xbox Classic pros: Collector appeal and classic games

One of the best things that the Xbox Classic concept has going for it is that it's almost guaranteed to make a profit. There are tons of collectors and fans who love things like this, as demonstrated by NES Classic and PlayStation Classic's tremendous success. Since the only job of Microsoft's engineers will be how to shrink a twenty-year-old system, I can't imagine Xbox Classics would be that expensive to make, either.

Another large point in the Xbox Classic's corner is that if Microsoft was to bundle the console with a collection of original Xbox games, it would be a viable option for people who want to play them for the first time. Currently, copies of original Xbox titles can often be expensive, with some games even costing as much as $80. If some of these were packaged in an Xbox Classic bundle priced between $50 and $100, fans could get access to these older titles for a lot cheaper.

Xbox Classic cons: Backward compatibility, priority issues

Xbox E3

Xbox E3 (Image credit: Windows Central)

While I don't think it would be enough to prevent Microsoft from making money on the Xbox Classic idea, it is worth pointing out that Xbox One allows people to play several classic Xbox titles already if they have the discs. This is thanks to the backward compatibility program, which is arguably Xbox One's strongest features this generation. People lucky enough to own a copy of these games from 20 years ago would have no reason to buy an Xbox Classic, aside from collector value.

Additionally, it could be argued that a side console should be the last thing on Microsoft's mind. There has been a lot of disappointment in the Xbox One family of consoles due to a lack of exclusives, and I think if Microsoft tried to push the idea of an Xbox Classic, many people would simply get annoyed that the time and effort was used on it instead of acquiring more game developers and getting new intellectual properties.

Your thoughts

What do you think of the idea of an Xbox Classic console? Let us know down below.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

  • I'd rather have a Dreamcast Classic than a Xbox Classic as there are many Dreamcast games that never received sequels but are unique and would be great to play again. Even though I owned an original Xbox, there aren't many Xbox games that had the type of impact on me as the Dreamcast and it's games did.
  • Not to mention the fact that you have backwards compatibility already with some games, and supposedly more to come. It would seem like a waste to do both.
  • I have kept all my older generation consoles just to play older games. I have a lot of nieces and nephews and they have a blast playing some of the older games. While the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One provides "some" backward compatibility it is not universal. They do not all play and some do not play well in compatibility mode. Some games like Crimson Skies would be great but useless without the older xbox live. There is a strong desire for older games as you can see how many gamers still keep the Atari 2600 alive and even deploy new games on that ancient platform. Not sure if Microsoft sees this as profitable, but I would like something to play my older games because I suspect my OG Xbox and even Xbox 360 will not last forever.
  • Just add the classic titles to the store to be downloaded, no extra hardware required!
  • Honestly, I think the mini consoles are cash grabs, and aren't the best way to play old games. Microsoft should stick to their strengths, and show people you don't need to buy a whole separate console just to play the classics you love. Just buy an Xbox.
  • The article states that Nintendo and Sony are both already successful with these mini consoles. I can't argue that the NES/SNES minis arent successful, because they absolutely were, but Sony has only ANNOUNCED theirs, so it can't yet be argued for as a success. It likely will be, though. I mean, how cool do these things look sitting there and plug right in with HDMI?
  • There aren't hard stats for the PlayStation Classic just yet, but public reception across all sites and forums of discussion that I've been researching show public opinion of the system is incredibly high and plenty of people are saying they're pre-ordering. I considered that enough to say it's been successful.
  • I totally agree... And plan on picking one up myself! Just wondering how the final thing comes together, like if they can nail some of the missed opportunities of the Nintendo minis. For example, no controller button or shortcut to access the main menu without getting up and the hilarious cords on the controllers. Would be a good opportunity for Playstation to set the example.
  • Why? Any game Microsoft could possible license for an Xbox Classic likely already works on the Xbox One as a backwards compatible title. Waste of hardware development resources.
  • Not really. A very small team could throw something together as a side project. All they'd be doing is shrinking down something that's already there. Then there's the fact that these mini consoles are probably outsourced anyway to some other company. Potentially even just licensed... So therefore no work at all from Nintendo/Sony, they just licensed out the brands to whomever to make these things. Took a cheque and helped with marketing...
  • Sony and Nintendo are solving for what they cannot do but the Xbox can, backwards compatibility. Sprinkle a little Nostalgia and you got yourself a hit. I think Xbox should continue making every game they can backwards compatible. If they want to make a cool little plastic thing maybe they could make one that doesn't necessarily turn on but looks like the original and on the bottom has codes to classic Xbox games. the fact that I can go home right now turn on my Xbox One plug in the Hyperkin Duke and play original Xbox games is pretty awesome. Just my thoughts.
  • I would agree if not for the fact Switch Online basically provides a copy of almost every game on the NES Classic. Plus, Nintendo has been porting older arcade titles to the Switch library. Nintendo seems perfectly capable of doing backwards compatibility with the Switch with digital titles (in fact, I would love for them to start brining much of their 1st party back catalog up to the Switch. They could make a killing on classic controllers). Sony, on the other hand, is completely riding the popularity of the [S]NES Classics by launching their own. I don't think Sony has the technical skill to do backwards compatibility with their non-x86 titles. When Microsoft announced it for X360 titles, I specifically remember a Sony rep expressing shock because they didn't think it was technically possible. Plus, Sony has a large market share and thus has no incentive to worry about it. The thing working against Sony is the fact the PS1 wasn't their most popular system. It would take a PS2 Classic to get a larger population of consumers interested.
  • I don't think an "Xbox classic" will be a hit like the nes and snes. The bottom line is its too new. NES and SNES are old systems and everyone that is older that has played games has played on them either through emulators or the real thing. So the nostalgia factor is there but it also introduces the new generation to those classics. Sony I think is trying to ride that same bandwagon and use Nintendos momentum to sell their console but they also have a pretty old console to offer up. MS didn't really have an old console and the games that were hits back then are mostly on backwards compatibility now so I don't see them gaining anything from a "classic" console.
  • Definitely a valid view. Though, I would point out that the PS1 wasn't too far behind the Xbox in terms of release time. Was only a few years behind.
  • Not exactly true. The PS One as you call it is just a the original PS with essentially cosmetic changes (a slim version of the PS). The PS One (released the same time as the PS2) was 2000 but the actual PS was released in 1995 (1994 Japan before Windows 95 and Bob). That is not quite a just a few years ahead of the Xbox released in 2001. The Xbox was actually released a whole 6 years later in the US, 7 years if you count when the PS was released in Japan. That is a full generation (PS/PSOne was a 5th gen machine, vs the PS2 and Xbox original which were both 6th gen consoles)
  • I definitely agree PS1 is borderline on the consideration of a "classic" console but since Sony doesn't have a backwards compatibility solution they could use Nintendos momentum to release one to some success. I don't think it will be as successful as Nintendos simply because a lot of the ps1 games were remastered and re-released on newer gen consoles (like RE1 and such) but they do have a better chance of success than MS but only because they failed to provide a viable backwards compatibility solution.
  • No. I prefer the BC route.
  • I think that it would be a dumb idea. It would take away the one advantage that Microsoft has over Sony and Nintendo. One platform that can play all generations of games in one place. "Leave no gamer behind"- Phil Spencer
  • Xbox classic doesn't really make sense. All of the classic/mini consoles are real old hardware that is easy to emulate, an Xbox is not. The hardware inside a possible Xbox classic would cost more even if you had it running a few titles.
  • Philips Videopac G7000 classic, with all games built in. Now that would be something.
  • I need my KeleicoVision Classic :)
  • Never seen it spelled that way. So, just checking but, you mean ColecoVision right or is there a really ancient console that I don't know about?
  • Hm, is that the one where you could put plastic sheets into the joysticks built in numeric keyboard to give new functions? I have pretty much forgotten all about it, but I think my 17 year older brothers girlfriend had one of these. Not sure if I have forgotten the name, or if it had a different name in Norway. Like the Philips G7000 had a different name in the US.
  • The ColecoVision did have that feature (slipping plastic overlays on the keypad), though it wasn't the first. It was also a primary feature of the Intellivision, and even the Atari 2600 had an optional keypad controller with overlays, if you can believe it.
  • Honestly before they focus on something like an Xbox classic I'd rather they focus any retro efforts on figuring out a way to re-enable Xbox Live support for original Xbox games. I remember the technical issues (friends list ceiling, protocol bottlenecks) but if they were to develop some sort of sandbox or sub network to make that happen I think it would be more beneficial. I'd be happy to maintain some sort of additional settings to make it compatible. Like say a manual list of friends the work on the OG Xbox Live network (to not blow out the cap).
  • Don't want a Xbox Classic.
    I'd prefer to have a Xbox Portable, runs win10+UWP+MsStore+SaveSync and mainly for XboxOg and 360 games.
  • I don't think they should make a classic in the same sense as Nintendo and Sony have (we'll ignore Sega's Atgames … stuff). However, I do think Microsoft could, maybe even should, do something along the same theme. Imagine this, A xbox one s, preloaded with around 20 classic xbox games, Fable, Fuzion Frenzy etc. but get this, provide a 'xbox classic s' controller instead of the xbox one s controller, and instead just doing a xbox one s case, use the same case design from the original xbox, albeit a slim version. Everyone gets the benefits of a new console with the latest games, as well as a custom retro console design and games included pre-installed.... but with the ability to actually play up to date game as well, so it won't just get left on the shelf and forgotten about in a few months time.
  • Utilizing BC, good idea too.
    XB one in XB og shell would benefit MS, dev and consumer better than a classic.
  • Maybe a bundle of games via download code/Xbox Store would work best.
  • The question is why bother with an xbox classic?I would rather they just add more OG Xbox BC support. Already a handlful of my OG games are supported and I want more. I could say the same for Sony, but history shows they really don't care. They ditched PS2 BC from the PS3, and while the PS4 technically could handle PS1, PSP and Vita games, it doesn't.
  • I would say no.
    1) Different from Nintendo and Sony, Microsoft first party is not strong. Nintendo and Sony could easily pack tens of different games with classic version, but not that easy for Microsoft. What's more, I noticed sometimes there's issue like music license with old Microsoft games (e.g., Alan Wake). and at least most of Nintendo games use their own music so they have real full control. In sum, besides hardware, software / contents would be way more difficult for Xbox classic.
    2) Backward compatibility. N / S don't have this with their latest hardware (Switch just added but require month subscription), which make the classic hardware necessary. Xbox One has it (if you argue not to full potential yet, I would say it may be due to the first reason), so there's no need to create another dedicate hardware.
  • Jumping into bandwagons is an awful practice.
  • Bundle it with a month of game pass and maybe even offer it at a discount for existing subscribers through ms store and they can cash in on the trend *and* push game pass at the same time
  • They should do it, but bundle some of the best local played games only. Include information on what is available on the Xbox One S/X and show pictures of picture quality changes. Maybe include some unlock codes and discounts for Xbox One S/X.
  • Just make an Xbox One X in an Xbox 1 shell. I know I constantly **** on consoles but Xbox was such a beast for its time so its only appropriate to make the modern beast that is the One X in the OG Xbox shell
  • Xbox one in an Xbox 1 shell you say ?
  • Wasn't Microsoft locked out from making improvements to the OG Xbox GPU hardware due to agreements with NVIDIA? Wouldn't those prevent the ability to even make a Classic?
  • Playstation classic is 'for the players'...... to open up their wallets for Sony LOL!