Microsoft discusses Xbox Series X backward compatibility, includes HDR and up to 120 FPS on older games

Xbox Series X Chip
Xbox Series X Chip (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Xbox Series X is Microsoft's next-generation console.
  • "Thousands" of previous Xbox One games will hit Xbox Series X.
  • The system allows for enhanced backward compatibility.
  • Backward compatible games feature higher resolutions, better lighting, and better frame rates.

Today, Jason Ronald, Partner Director of Program Management for the Xbox Platform Team, discussed the innovations the company is bringing to backward compatible games on Xbox Series X. Thousands of backward compatible titles will feature high dynamic range (HDR) lighting and Quick Resume, but also the ability to increase the resolution or double the frame rate.

The company said the following in the press release Windows Central received. Microsoft has spent a lot of times testing Xbox 360 and original Xbox games on Xbox Series X.

With more than 100,000 hours of play testing already completed, thousands of games are already playable on Xbox Series X today, from the biggest blockbusters to cult classics and fan favorites. Many of us in Team Xbox play on the Xbox Series X daily as our primary console and switching between generations is seamless. By the time we launch this holiday, the team will have spent well over 200,000 hours ensuring your game library is ready for you to jump in immediately.


Backward compatible games, including those made for Xbox 360 or the original Xbox, will get HDR through a new reconstruction technique. HDR adds more vibrant colors to these classics.

Backward compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X hardware, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU, and the SSD. No boost mode, no downclocking, the full power of the Xbox Series X for each and every backward compatible game. This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, many times even higher performance than the games saw on their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady frame rates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality. Backward compatible titles also see significant reductions in in-game load times from the massive leap in performance from our custom NVMe SSD which powers the Xbox Velocity Architecture... In partnership with the Xbox Advanced Technology Group, Xbox Series X delivers a new, innovative HDR reconstruction technique which enables the platform to automatically add HDR support to games. As this technique is handled by the platform itself, it allows us to enable HDR with zero impact to the game's performance and we can also apply it to Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles developed almost 20 years ago, well before the existence of HDR.

Quick Resume

Quick Resume will also be available for backward compatibility. You can launch games exactly where you left off and it seems to tie into the SSD technology.

The new Quick Resume feature was designed to not only work with new games, but it can also be enabled for backward-compatible titles. Quick Resume enables players to resume exactly where they left off, across multiple titles, ensuring gamers can get right back to the fun in an instant. All of these advances happen at the platform level and require no additional work from title developers.

Resolution and frame rate

The Xbox Series X pushes backward compatible games further by increasing the resolution up to 4K and allowing you to increase the frame rate. For example, you can make 30 frames per second (FPS) games run at 60 FPS, and 60 FPS games run at 120 FPS.

Techniques such as the Heutchy method, which enables titles to render with increased resolutions up to 4K, or applying anisotropic filtering to improve the final image quality bring these classic games up to modern standards, better than ever before... The compatibility team has invented brand new techniques that enable even more titles to run at higher resolutions and image quality while still respecting the artistic intent and vision of the original creators. We are also creating whole new classes of innovations including the ability to double the frame rate of a select set of titles from 30 FPS to 60 FPS or 60 FPS to 120 FPS.

The biggest innovation appears to be the ability to double the frame rate. This should improve controls because increasing the frame rate reduces input lag. It'll be interesting to see which games support this. What do you hope to see from backward compatibility on Xbox Series X? Let us know.



Asher Madan

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.