Bad news for gamers everywhere: Microsoft has officially announced that they will be closing the Xbox 360 Store next July 29, 2024.
Microsoft stopped producing new Xbox 360 consoles back in 2016, three years after the newer Xbox One was released. Still, it’s been a successful console with 100 million users playing from the nearly 18 years since its release in 2005. Microsoft has continued its online support, until now.
After the 360 Store shuts down, as well as the Xbox 360 Marketplace website, you will no longer be able to purchase any games or DLCs online. You also won’t be able to watch TV and movie content as the Microsoft Movies & TV app will no longer be supported.
However, the light’s not completely out for the 360. You will still be able to purchase physical copies of games, although it’s likely that they will see a raise in price with more demand for them, and some are pretty rare. Multiplayer games will also still be supported, so you can play games on the 360 online with your friends.
But… There are some concerns in the gaming community on how this shut down will affect the legacy of Xbox 360 games. Many of these games are not backwards compatible, meaning they can’t be played on newer consoles like the Xbox One or Series X/S. This means they’re stuck on the 360 — and once the 360 becomes obsolete, there aren’t any ways to archive or ensure that these games can be played for future generations.
And this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon either, or one exclusive to Microsoft. Last March, Nintendo closed their eShop for the Wii U and 3DS systems. Playstation limited buying digital games on the PS3 and Playstation Vita consoles. So, this begs the question, how are all these games going to be preserved?
Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox Gaming, has said that preserving 360 games will be at the “front and center” of the company’s mind. He believes that Microsoft’s backwards compatibility efforts are “world class,” although he does note the over 200 games that haven’t been supported.
According to Yahoo Finance, Spencer said, “There’s a list of, what, 220 games that are not back compat, and I have that list and I’ve got it stapled on my forehead, and like, how can we make sure [you can play them still?].” He added, “How many of those are on PC? That’s one thing, because it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be able to play it on the existing hardware that you bought 15 years ago, but preservation is front and center when all these decisions are made.”
Spencer says that backwards compatibility is the easiest to do on PCs, because those games aren’t specifically tied to one single piece of hardware like console games are — Xbox 360 games were made specifically for the 360, and nothing else.
“I will say for us, that preservation that’s linked to only one piece of hardware is a challenge,” Spencer said. “Because there can be hardware love as well—people who love and want this device to do this forever—but mechanical things will break over time. But that’s why we gave people with this decision a year. Let’s say, ‘Hey, if you want to go buy things in the [Xbox 360 digital store], we’re going to give you a year head start, and you can go get those things.’ And just know that the list of the 220 games is something that we see, and we would love to find solutions for those games to continue to play.”
Microsoft promises that they will provide support for older games in the future. And it’s important that they do — this can shape the path of the future of gaming, either making it or breaking it.
By Caileigh Winslade, Freshman, DePaul University
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