The Xbox 360 turns 18 this year, and like many 18-year-olds, it’s going to lose a few things that it once took for granted. On February 7, Microsoft plans to delist more than 40 downloadable Xbox 360 games, including titles from prominent series such as Assassin’s Creed, Dark Souls, Star Wars and The Witcher. Some of these games will still be available on Xbox One and Xbox Series X consoles, but others may be lost for good.
The information comes from Microsoft’s support section, on a page entitled “Xbox 360 Marketplace update (opens in new tab).” The page explains that starting on February 7, Microsoft will delist a few dozen titles, varying slightly by region, with PDF attachments explaining which games each region will lose. To list a few examples, the United States PDF cites:
- Assassin’s Creed IV
- Call of Duty: Ghosts
- Dark Souls
- Mass Effect 2
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II
- The Orange Box
- The Witcher 2
There’s some good news — but only some. First off, players who have already purchased these titles and their associated DLC will be able to download and redownload them indefinitely. Second, physical editions for many of these games are widely available, and will still work just fine. Third, users will still be able to purchase these games on newer Xbox consoles, such as the Xbox One and Xbox Series X. (Microsoft did not mention whether they will still be available through the Xbox Marketplace’s Web interface, but that seems like a reasonable possibility.)
The flip side, however, is that not every Xbox 360 title is backwards compatible with newer Xbox systems. Similarly, not every one of these games had a physical release. As such, some of the games will essentially disappear, including Iron Brigade and Defense Grid. (Side note: Defense Grid is an underrated classic, as is Defense Grid 2.)
The situation is not as catastrophic as it could be, as most of the games are either backwards compatible, or have readily available versions on other platforms. But delisting is always bad for game preservation, which represents a growing problem for the medium. Sony and Nintendo have both been cavalier about their back catalogs, and Microsoft joining them continues an unpleasant precedent.
In any case, if you want any of the Xbox 360 games on offer, now would be a good time to pick them up. After about a week or so, you won’t be able to change your mind.