Our analysis used a third-party API to randomly sample usage data from nearly one million active Xbox One Gamertags over a period of nearly five months starting last September (read the introductory piece for much more about the data and methodology). In the end, only about 1.5 percent of the more than 1.65 billion minutes of Xbox One usage time we tracked was spent on the 300+ backward-compatible Xbox 360 games, in aggregate. That translates to an average of just 23.9 minutes per sampled active Xbox One user spent on Xbox 360 games out of 1,526 average minutes of Xbox One usage during the sampling period.
Things don’t look better for backward compatibility when you look at individual games. The most popular backward-compatible title in our sample, Call of Duty: Black Ops, was played by three or four out of every 1,000 active Xbox Live users, which is actually competitive with some of the most popular Xbox One titles. Usage rates for less-popular games drop off steeply from there, though, and no other backward-compatible title even ranks in the top 100 most popular Xbox One apps in terms of total unique users.
Those backward-compatibility numbers might seem shockingly low, but they do line up broadly with what Microsoft itself has reported. The company said in late 2015 that Xbox One users had spent 9 million hours playing Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One in the feature’s first month or so of availability. That may sound like a big number, but it averages out to just a few minutes of playtime for each of the estimated 19 million or so Xbox One owners around at the time. And that was when the feature was brand new and attracting a surge of initial interest.
This data alone isn’t the only way to measure the impact of Xbox 360 backward compatibility. The few people who do use the feature heavily could see it as a huge additional value, especially if they missed out on owning the Xbox 360 during the last console generation. Even those that don’t use backward compatibility all that much may feel comforted knowing that the feature is there if and when they ever want to replay Doritos Crash Course.
Overall, though, it looks like Ryan’s sentiment carries over to the Xbox ecosystem. While backward compatibility is a feature a lot of console owners seems to like having, it’s not one that a lot of Xbox One owners seem to spend a lot of time using.
Check out the full “Xbox Unleashed” feature for a whole lot more data about console usage on both the Xbox One and Xbox 360, as well as analysis of what games people own on each system.