How to play Xbox games on Xbox 360, a proven guide

Backwards compatibility is the ability for a video game console to play previous generation games on a newer system. The Xbox 360 features partial backwards compatibility, meaning only some Xbox games will play on an Xbox 360. Learn how to set up an Xbox 360 console to play original Xbox games.

Requirements to Play Xbox Games on Xbox 360

Before setting up an Xbox 360 console to play backwards compatible Xbox games, be sure to have these bare requirements. There are two ways to update an Xbox 360 to play Xbox games, and both have their own requirements.

  • An Xbox 360 console with a hard drive
  • Original Xbox video game disc
  • An Xbox Live Silver (or Gold) account (to update online)
  • A broadband internet connection connected to the Xbox 360 console (to update online)
  • A PC with a DVD or CD burner and a blank DVD or CD (to update through a DVD or CD)

Play Xbox Games on Xbox 360 – Online Update

Updating to play Xbox games on 360 via an online Xbox Live Silver or Gold account is the easiest option. Just follow these simple steps to play Halo 2 and other great Xbox games in no time.

  • Turn on the Xbox 360 console
  • Sign into a profile that has a Silver or Gold Xbox Live account
  • If prompted, make sure to update the Xbox 360 console
  • Place the original Xbox game disc inside the Xbox 360 tray and close the tray
  • After reading the disc, the update process should automatically begin
  • Download any necessary updates
  • To avoid errors, do not interrupt the download/update process

Once complete, any supported Xbox games can be played through the Xbox 360 console. If the game does not work, it is very likely not backwards compatible. For a list of backwards compatible games, read below.

Play Xbox Games on Xbox 360 – Burn a DVD or CD and Update

Updating for backwards compatibility on an Xbox 360 console through burning a CD or DVD is a slightly more complicated task. However, it’s a great option for anyone that does not have a broadband connection, or for any other reason, cannot connect the Xbox 360 to the internet. Follow these instructions to update the Xbox 360 to play Xbox games:

  • Visit this link on the Official Xbox Website
  • Scroll down to the “Original Xbox Game Support Update” and click the link to download the file
  • Unzip the file’s contents (note: If using a Windows operating system before XP, additional software such as Winzip may be required)
  • Open a CD or DVD burning software application, and place a blank CD or DVD in the drive
  • Place the file “default.xex” onto the blank CD/DVD and burn it
  • Once the CD/DVD is finished, remove it from the computer and place it in the Xbox 360 tray
  • The update should begin automatically; accept the update by clicking “continue” and “yes, update”

After a few moments, the Xbox 360 console should be updated and ready to play original Xbox games. If the game doesn’t work, it’s likely an unsupported Xbox game. Look below for a quick list of supported Xbox games.

List of Xbox 360 Backwards Compatible Xbox Games

The following is a short list of several popular backwards compatible Xbox video games. For a full list, please visit the link below the list.

  • Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding, Amped 2
  • BLACK
  • Burnout, Burnout 2, Burnout 3: Takedown
  • Call of Duty: Finest Hour, Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, Call of Duty 3
  • Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge
  • Dead or Alive 3, Dead or Alive Ultimate
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  • Fable, Fable: The Lost Chapters
  • Far Cry: Instincts
  • Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (GTA)
  • Half-Life 2
  • Halo, Halo 2, Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack
  • Max Payne, Max Payne 2
  • Project Gotham Racing, Project Gotham Racing 2
  • Psychonauts
  • Soul Calibur 2
  • Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel without a Pulse

For a full list of Xbox 360 backward compatible games, please visit the Official Xbox Website.

Xbox Originals – Xbox Game Downloads

The only other option to play Xbox games on Xbox 360 is to buy them through the Xbox Live Marketplace. Xbox Originals game downloads cost 1200 MS points each ($15), and are only available to Xbox 360 gamers with a hard drive and an Xbox Live connection.

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