Xbox Head Calls For Industry-Wide Support Of Emulation

Xbox head Phil Spencer is calling for the game industry to put more support into games preservation, including emulation of older games.

Spencer spoke with Axios on the topic of games preservation through emulation. ““My hope (and I think I have to present it that way as of now) is 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,” Spencer said in a direct message to Axios. 

phil spencer xbox
Credit: E3/Xbox

It’s an incredibly bold take for the head of one of the big three gaming companies to take. And it’s in direct contrast to the actions Nintendo has taken against those who run ROM sites. Spencer is right to say it though. In many cases, ports or remasters of older games just aren’t commercially viable. It feels unfair for Nintendo to target ROM sites when they aren’t even making many popular games legally available. Mother 3 is literally only playable in English thanks to a fan translation. It’s also a game fans have been clamouring for an official release for years. But fans have literally only been able to play the game through emulation.

emulation is legal

It’s important to note that emulation is completely legal. If you own a game, and copy it to your computer, there’s nothing stopping you from emulating it. It’s the distribution of game ROMs that’s illegal. Spencer calling for more of the games industry to allow for legal emulation is great. Frank Cifaldi, game historian and preservationist, also spoke with Axios saying, “Emulation is the path of least resistance for re-releasing games originally written for dead platforms. There just isn’t a better way that is commercially viable.”

Hopefully a figure as big as Spencer making this statement will make more people open to the idea, and we can push game preservation further forward.

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Featured Image Credit: E3/Microsoft