Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox Series X and Series S consoles are finally here, and gamers around the world are enjoying the delights they bring. The Series X is a true powerhouse, while the Series S is a great affordable entry point into next gen (or a brilliant second console for those who already have a PC or a PS5). Xbox Game Pass is also bringing the thunder, allowing gamers everywhere to play an incredible amount of games for just one small subscription fee per month.
Unfortunately, however, for many, it’s not as simple as that. Both the Xbox Series X and Series S have been subject to massive delays and stock outages thanks to the ongoing semiconductor shortage, which means that many simply haven’t been able to get a Series X or Series S. The situation is improving somewhat – for the Series S, at least – but the Series X remains difficult to find. The question, therefore, becomes thus: will Xbox Series X games work on Xbox One?
Games made for Xbox Series X|S won’t work on Xbox One
First, let’s get the bad news out of the way: any game specifically made for Xbox Series X|S won’t work on your Xbox One. The good news is that right now, that list is pretty small. Only Bloober Team’s horror title The Medium and Microsoft’s aviation sim Microsoft Flight Simulator are unplayable on Xbox One. Unfortunately, this list is going to grow as time goes on, as Microsoft moves away from supporting Xbox One so that it can develop games for the next generation. This means that as we move forward, the likelihood that Xbox Series X games work on Xbox One becomes smaller.
Streaming means you can play Xbox Series X games on Xbox One
Despite this limitation, Microsoft has said that it will actually be possible to play Xbox Series X games on Xbox One. The company is intending to use its Xbox Cloud Gaming program to turn your Xbox One into a streaming platform, so that you can play Xbox Series X games without actually requiring the hardware. You can think of this as working in much the same way as Google Stadia or PlayStation Now; you’re streaming the game from a machine that’s running it somewhere else in the world. The downside, of course, is that you’ll need a very good internet connection for this to work properly.
We don’t know when Xbox Cloud Gaming is coming to Series X or Series S
The downside to this announcement is that we sadly don’t have any idea when Xbox Cloud Gaming will be available on Xbox One. In the official announcement this June, Microsoft said it looked forward to being able to share more information with Xbox One owners about how they could play Xbox Series X|S games on their machines. It sounds like this time is not going to come anytime soon, so we’re going to have to wait for further instruction from Microsoft on this one. Just know that eventually, this will be a possibility.
Smart Delivery means you can play Xbox One games on Series X|S
Any Xbox game that supports the company’s Smart Delivery feature will allow you to buy the Xbox One version, then play it on Xbox Series X or Series S. This means you can purchase the last-gen version safe in the knowledge that you’ll be able to upgrade when it’s time. Technically, this means that many Xbox Series X games will be playable on Xbox One. For example, Halo Infinite is launching on both Xbox Series X and Xbox One, and it’ll support Smart Delivery, meaning that you can play it on Series X at no additional cost. This will apply to all Xbox Game Studios projects, too!
Games are compatible between Xbox Series X and Series S
If you pick up an Xbox Series S, then decide that you want to buy a Series X after all, that won’t be a problem. Every game that’s playable on Xbox Series X will also be available on Series S, so you won’t lose your library no matter what happens. Of course, you may notice a visual or performance downgrade if you swap from X to S – the S is a less powerful machine, after all – but the game will at least be available at no additional cost to you. This won’t help you to play Xbox Series X games on your Xbox One, unfortunately, but it’s still peace of mind if you decide to upgrade.
Most Xbox Game Pass games are compatible on both machines
Even though games like Halo Infinite and Gears Tactics are a major part of Microsoft’s next-gen gaming strategy, you can still enjoy them through Xbox Game Pass if you’re an Xbox One gamer. This will be true of many Microsoft games, but it will also apply to lots of third-party offerings, so even if you don’t love Microsoft’s first-party titles, you’ll still have plenty to play on your Xbox One in future. Case in point: cyberpunk shooter The Ascent, which launched on Xbox Game Pass on day one and was playable both on Xbox Series X and Xbox One.
We hope this deep dive into whether Xbox Series X games work on Xbox One was helpful for you. At present, there’s no way to play a game that’s built solely for Xbox Series X on Xbox One, but at some point in the future – when Microsoft introduces Xbox Cloud Gaming for its last-gen machine – that will definitely change!