As rights issues block more Xbox back-compat games, Phil Spencer calls for ‘legal emulation’


Xbox boss Phil Spencer wants to see the gaming industry work towards a legal game emulation solution, to better preserve older software, he said.

Preservation has become an increasingly important topic in the games industry in recent years, as older games gradually become unavailable due to outdated hardware or shut down online services.

Talk to Axios, Xbox exec Spencer advocated software emulation as a solution to game preservation.

Emulators, which allow modern hardware to simulate older hardware and run games, are widely used by fans and conservatives, but there is currently no universal support for them in the industry.

The Xbox Series X|S runs older Xbox games using its own emulation. However, since there is no industry-accepted standard, he still has to obtain the rights from game manufacturers for each title, instead of running games directly from old discs.

And this week, the company claimed that the 76 new games added to its backward compatibility library would be its last, due to those legal and technical constraints. Presumably, an industry-wide emulator standard would solve these problems.

“I think we can learn from the story of how we got here through creation,” Spencer said. “I love it in music. I love it in movies and on TV, and there are positive reasons for gaming to want to follow.

“My hope (and I think I have to frame it that way from now on) is that as an industry we would work on a legal emulation that would allow modern hardware to run any executable (in reasonable limits) allowing someone to play any game.”

He added: “I think at the end of the day, if we were to say, ‘Hey, anybody should be able to buy any game, or own any game and still play’, that seems like an excellent North Star for us as an industry.”

Compared to console rivals Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft has always championed the importance of preservation on its consoles.

As rights issues block more Xbox back-compat games, Phil Spencer calls for a

Backward compatibility has long been a key feature of Microsoft’s Xbox Series X/S marketing efforts, with the company promoting the consoles’ ability to play a wide range of original Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games.

Many games take advantage of new consoles’ capabilities to “look and play better” than they originally did, and others support features like FPS Boost, which nearly doubles the original frame rate, and Auto HDR, which adds HDR enhancements to games that only come with standard dynamic range.

And earlier this year, Microsoft introduced backwards compatible titles to Xbox cloud gaming for the first time by making a number of classic games from Rare, Bethesda and others available to mobile users with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. .


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