Xbox head Phil Spencer says backwards compatibility is about preserving the art of games

Xbox E3
Xbox E3 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Speaking to Time, Xbox head Phil Spencer discussed a range of subjects, including the brand new Xbox One X, Windows Mixed Reality, and more.

One comment that really struck me, however, was this one about Spencer's motivation for pushing backwards compatibility across the Xbox One ecosystem.

Phil Spencer referenced PlayStation's marketing chief Jim Ryan, who was recently quoted downplaying backwards compatibility, stating that older Gran Turismo games "looked ancient," following it up with "why would anyone want to play this?" For Spencer, it's less to do with business opportunities, and more to do with the preservation of the artistic medium of video games.

"I look at video games as an art form. I'll go back and I'll watch Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane. I'll read The Lord of the Rings, I'll listen to early Rolling Stones or Zeppelin albums. I think it's important that art media lives with us, and we learn from it, and I think games are the same. Not every game, just like not every album, is a perfect work of art. But the fact that these games are still playable and are foundational to a lot of what we play today I think is a good thing for us to keep close as an industry and to learn from.""Things like Tetris. Should people be able to play Tetris? Absolutely. These was something kind of magical about what that was, and people still play that game. Minecraft was first launched in 2009 and here we are eight years later and it's bigger than it's ever been. I don't think it's a good thing when games become unplayable for technical reasons. It doesn't mean everybody should go back and play every game, but I want those games to be accessible."

Indeed, not every game added to the Xbox's backwards compatible line-up sees a huge amount of traction, every now and then though, games like Red Dead Redemption and Black Ops II come along, re-entering sales charts as players flock to get their nostalgia fix. The important thing is that future generations will be able to take a look at the past and see how we got to where we are today, particularly when Microsoft brings the OG Xbox into the fold as announced at E3 2017.

What games are you still hoping for on Xbox backwards compatibility? Hit the comments.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden 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 caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!