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X360 backwards compatible

Final Fantasy XI confirmed, DOA4 for launch, dates, etc.

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, and that Xbox Live users will be able to interact with PC players.

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 - for launch.

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.