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E3: Xbox 360 to be backwards compatible; FFXI coming to Live

Microsoft's pre-E3 conference has revealed a number of new details about the Xbox 360 console, including the fact that the system will be backwards compatible and the arrival of Square Enix' first product for a Microsoft console.

Microsoft's pre-E3 conference has revealed a number of new details about the Xbox 360 console, including the fact that the system will be backwards compatible and the arrival of Square Enix' first product for a Microsoft console.

The news that the console will be backwards compatible was announced by chief Xbox officer Robbie Bach at the event, and ends months of speculation over whether it would be technically - and legally - possible for Microsoft to implement this feature.

However, the phrasing of the backwards compatability announcement is notable; Microsoft has only pledged that the "best selling" Xbox titles will be compatible, suggesting that not all Xbox games will play nicely with the hardware in Xbox 360.

What's more interesting is the range of Xbox 360 native software which the company is touting - with over 160 titles claimed to be in development for the console, 25 to 40 of which will be available within three months of the system's launch in late 2005.

One of the biggest announcements of the event was that Square Enix' Final Fantasy XI massively multiplayer game is coming to Xbox 360, marking the first time that the Japanese publisher has given its support to a Microsoft console.

The game is one of the most popular massively multiplayer games in the world, and is already available on PlayStation 2 and PC. In fact, players of the Xbox 360 version will be playing against their peers on PS2 and PC.

The announcement that FFXI will come to Xbox 360 is significant largely because of the softening in Square Enix' attitude to Xbox it represents, with the two companies describing it as being just the beginning of their collaboration.

Other software titles which have been confirmed at the event include a significant line-up from Electronic Arts (including Madden NFL 06, Need For Speed Most Wanted and The Godfather), Capcom's new zombie title Dead Rising, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Tecmo's Dead or Alive 4.

The company has yet to pin an exact release date on Xbox 360, but it has pledged that the device will launch simultaneously in North America, Europe and Japan. Interestingly, it has also made a commitment to continue selling games for the first Xbox after the launch of Xbox 360.

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Rob Fahey avatar

Rob Fahey

Contributing Editor

Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.

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