Microsoft shuts down classic game emulation Xbox Series X/S It’s April 6th and a small but passionate community of retro enthusiasts, conservationists, and home brewers is taking up arms. They’re urging the console maker to reverse course and make legal emulation easier again, even if it means potentially provoking rivals like Sony and Nintendo.
Xbox Series X/S is unmatched among consoles in allowing users to easily emulate legacy games. When available in 2020, new owners install emulators that can play classic PlayStation 2 and GameCube games above. This is still possible with paid access to the console’s developer mode, but Microsoft no longer offers this feature. standard retail mode. While users were able to download and run emulators for dozens of older consoles before, they now encounter an error code stating that such programs violate Microsoft Store policy.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a good run” tweeted gamr13helping to distribute Xbox retail version of the RetroArch emulator front-end that includes emulation cores for everything from the NES to the Wii. They said they now have no choice but to tag Xbox and Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer on Twitter with a #LetUsEmulate hashtag.
While emulation is often associated with piracy, it’s a legit way to play copies of games you already own on newer hardware with modern conveniences.
In the earlier days of consoles, Xbox Series X/S owners could install various emulators and emulator frontends such as RetroArch, PPSPP, and DuckStation using the links on gamr13’s Github page to install Universal Windows Platform (UWP) versions of these apps via consoles. Microsoft store. However, as the tech giant started to realize this, it started to remove emulation apps from the store more and more quickly.
“Actually, Microsoft used to put pressure on my uploads that had taken months, weeks, days until now,” Gamr13 said. kotaku. “So I would reinstall apps every time they were uninstalled to get newcomers and everyone else up and running again.”
Xbox Series X/S was “like a Steam Deck” in terms of emulation
One way to make emulators last longer in Microsoft’s store was to mark them as private and then “whitelist” certain users to be able to download them. A Patreon helped coordinate and fund this event.
“Prints started increasing in late summer, into fall, where we struggled with daily takedowns for a while, so the day after the rise, these would be taken down,” gamr13 said. “We’ve since managed to find a way to not call them ‘RetroArch’ and instead make them last up to three days. [using] random names.”
As long as you already downloaded the emulators, it was fine anyway. Until now. Some users on Twitter shared stories that as a result of the change, they lost access to collections of hundreds and hundreds of classic games that they could no longer play on Xbox Series X/S.
Running emulators in developer mode of consoles remains an option, but accessing this feature requires a $20 fee and is not always available to owners in regions where access to online payment systems is more difficult. The timing of the prints also makes one wonder why Microsoft decided to change its stance towards the emulation community. Homebrew developers say emulating other platforms’ games is technically always against the store’s terms of service, but until now Xbox emulation enthusiasts thought the company was mostly content to look the other way.
The timing has cast some doubt on whether outside pressure is forcing Microsoft to be more aggressive. Nintendo has historically been extremely against emulation, and while a version of the GameCube and Dolphin emulator for Wii has been available on the Xbox Series X/S for some time, there is a dedicated port specifically for the console. just entered beta a few months ago. Nintendo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
in a statement kotakuA Microsoft spokesperson said: “We are continually improving our mechanisms to review content distributed to the Store and take enforcement action to ensure compliance with our Microsoft Store Policies. According to 10.13.10, Products that emulate a gaming system or gaming platform are not allowed on any device family. “
Unfortunately, Microsoft’s new level of policy enforcement is likely to leave the few Xbox owners who previously enjoyed spoofing their old games on Microsoft consoles in the cold. Develop mode remains an option, but it adds another layer of complexity and doesn’t always do well with console updates shipped early by those enrolled in the Microsoft Xbox Insider preview program.
“[Emulation] gamr13 was the whole reason me and many others bought an Xbox.” “PlayStation and Nintendo platforms require some modifications to run this kind of thing, but Xbox has been a really open and pleasant platform for everyone so far, be it indie developers. [or] game protection experts. It was like the Steam Deck of consoles.”
Correction 06.04.2023 19:12 ET: The role of gamr13 as the distributor of the Xbox Series S/X RetroArch application has been clarified.