Future support for the feature appears in jeopardy
Let's rewind to last May before Microsoft announced what was happening with Xbox 360. Rumors were flying that the next-generation Xbox wouldn't even have support for original Xbox games because of the hardware differences; unlike Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft hadn't really planned for building hardware upon each other for the future.
Even still, Microsoft announced at their E3 press conference that Xbox 360 would include support for "top selling Xbox games" through emulation. A confusing statement the company clarified when the E3 smoke had cleared, resulting in statements sent to a number of websites confirming a goal of including support for every Xbox game.
Don't believe us? Jump in 1UP's handy time machine for a second.
"Backward-compatibility is not the reason people buy a new system," said David Hufford, Microsoft Xbox group product manager. "The perception is that it is significant. We've put all our energy into new titles, but since our consumers have asked for it...we've made it a goal to make all titles backward-compatible." -- C|Net News -- May 16, 2005
"At launch, Xbox 360 will be backward compatible with the top Xbox games," Xbox PR manager Michael Wolf told GamesIndustry.biz today. "Our goal is to have every Xbox game work on Xbox 360. You will NOT need to purchase a new 'version' - your original games will work on Xbox 360." -- GamesIndustry.biz -- May 19, 2005
Microsoft started back pedaling from these statements as the machine's fall launch neared, however, as they started repeating their mantra of "top selling Xbox games" ad nausea until they announced the first wave of backwards compatible games. Since then, however, updates have been slow and without much of the fan input that occurred during the company's initial splurge into the feature.
The company started slowing on updates after adding support for games like Ubisoft's Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six series just before Christmas. Then, at the start of the year they confirmed the team working on the project was taking a break until the spring, when support for Black, Star Wars: Battlefront II and Winning Eleven 9 appeared in late March, alongside a series of performance tweaks for already enabled games.
Since then, however, it's been quiet. And then the story breaks today about corporate VP of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business and entertainment and devices division Peter Moore telling website Kikizo that they're considering dropping support because they already "under promised and over delivered."
"Nobody is concerned anymore about backwards compatibility. We under promised and over delivered on that. It's a very complicated thing... very complex work. I'm just stunned that we have hundreds of games that are backwards compatible," he said. "more are coming, but at some point, you just go, there's enough, let's move on, or people aren't as worried about a game being backwards compatible - and I like to think we've upheld our end of the bargain in making at least two or maybe three hundred games backwards compat."
Unsurprisingly, the backlash against Microsoft hasn't been pretty. Gamers are upset, and the fervor has moved onto the message boards and chat rooms.
Looking for a response, however, and you'll find none. Despite repeated pressed attempts for comment, Microsoft told us to expect "no further comment at this time," and so far have we have not heard back to suggest anything different.
Stay tuned for more; we'll keep digging.