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Xbox Series S runs the Xbox One S version of backward compatible games

Published: 22:36, 11 September 2020
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Xbox Series S won’t run Xbox One X versions of backwards compatible games, Microsoft confirms. Instead, it will run Xbox One S versions with its own enhancements.

The $299/£249 Xbox Series S was revealed earlier this week and will be capable of running games at 1440p/120fps and 4K upscaling. The console has virtually the same CPU as the $499 Xbox Series X, but a less powerful GPU, less memory, and no disc drive, so it's a digital-only console.

Microsoft showed in its Xbox Series S reveal video published earlier this week, how the next-gen console can leverage its CPU power to run Xbox One’s Gears 5 at 120fps on compatible televisions.

However, as noted by Digital Foundry in their Xbox Series S Reaction video , with the Xbox One S having less RAM than Xbox One X (10Gb vs 12Gb) it doesn't have the needed power to run Xbox One X backwards compatible games. Instead, it draws the Xbox One S version, with its specific enhancements.

Digital Foundry’s John Linneman said: “I think this is something that maybe had not been considered by some folks. If you’re playing an Xbox One game, it’s not going to be the Xbox One X version of the game. You’re not going to get the Xbox 360 4K backwards compatibility or things like that.”

DF editor Richard Leadbetter added: “I’m not sure that’s been officially confirmed but basically if you think it through rationally, there’s no other way it can be done. The Xbox One X has 9GB of system memory available to titles. The Series S has 8 and I’ve seen some reports that it’s actually 7.5GB. Regardless, with either configuration, it’s still lower than the Xbox One X, so I think it’s almost a forgone conclusion that the backwards compatibility will be drawing upon Xbox One S as opposed to Xbox One X.”

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However, Linneman noted that the games running in Xbox One S mode should still perform better on the Series S, thanks to its improved performance over the low-end current-gen machine.

Here's the official confirmation from Microsoft's spokesman on this subject, in response to a query from VGC :

“Xbox Series S was designed to be the most affordable next-generation console and play next-generation games at 1440P at 60fps. To deliver the highest quality backwards compatible experience consistent with the developer’s original intent, the Xbox Series S runs the Xbox One S version of backward compatible games while applying improved texture filtering, higher and more consistent frame rates, faster load times and Auto HDR.”

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