Microsoft's Phil Spencer supports emulation in game preservation

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Published by FileTrekker 1 year ago , last updated 1 year ago

The subject of game preservation is near and dear to me - as a fan of retro consoles dating back to the early 8-bit era, preserving the games of yesterday is an incredibly important task that, in a large part, is solved by emulation. After all, old hardware won't last forever, and it's not practical or accessible to maintain decades-old computer systems indefinitely for the majority of people to enjoy and learn about the history of video games.

It's great to see then that Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has gone on the record to support console emulation, at least in principle, as an important tool to preserve older titles, such as the efforts seen in Xbox's backwards compatibility program.

Speaking to Axios, Spencer shared his hopes that "as an industry, we'd work on legal emulation that allowed modern hardware to run any (within reason) older executable allowing someone to play any game."

While emulation has proven to be relatively popular on PC, it's not always proven that clear cut on consoles. Xbox has been fairly good about backwards compatibility, but not in every case, and to this day emulation of the PlayStation 3 is proving incredibly challenging, even on the best PC hardware you can get your hands on, never mind on Sony's own hardware.

That being said, Microsoft recently stated that the 76 Xbox and Xbox 360 games that are now compatible with its latest Series X|S consoles would be the last, which is incredibly disappointing. I personally believe that every game, even the less popular or obscure ones, should be preserved and brought forward into people's collections where possible.

It'll be interesting to see if this leads Xbox to endorse or provide emulation of its older consoles on PC, something it's not entertained to date. Official emulation of Xbox 360 games on PC has long been a pipe dream for many, and it feels like it's not entirely out of the realms of possibility, although incredibly unlikely.

In the meantime, I have no doubt the community will keep fighting the good fight in preserving old games through third-party emulation.

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