Backwards compatibility on Xbox One is 98.5% wasted effort

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The Xbox One backwards compatibility program has been scooting along since November 2015. During the launch, Microsoft hailed it as one of the biggest requests from Xbox gamers. Certainly, gamers are willing to defend the feature. The forum to request new Xbox 360 BC additions lists hundreds of thousands of votes per title. Purchases of landmark games like Red Dead Redemption or Call of Duty: Black Ops II are strong enough to push them into current sales charts when they launch on the compatibility service. It’s a huge win for gamers in principle, but is it actually used much?

According to data compiled by Ars Technica, the answer is “not really.” In fact, looking at the total time that Xbox players spend across all services the console offers, it amounts to 1.5% of everyone’s activity. That’s not a lot of return on investment in sheer user time, but intangibles like marketing and retention may hold value to Microsoft beyond those disparaging figures. Everyone seems to want it, but very few people take advantage of backwards compatibility. Maybe Sony’s global sales executive Jim Ryan was on to something when he asked Time “Why would anybody play this?” in regards to how older games look on newer consoles.