Microsoft has stopped the Xbox Series X/S console running emulation.
Microsoft has removed emulators from the Xbox Series X/S console. This will prevent you from using emulator software. According to those close to the Xbox QA, certain legal issues with Nintendo are responsible. This follows previous reports about Nintendo going after everyone who was tampering with their IPs. However, things aren’t always as they seem, and apparently, Nintendo had nothing to do with the emulator ban—they didn’t even sue Valve for the Nintendo Switch emulator on Steam Deck.
Ars Technica claims that the reason behind the ban is corporate greed. These policies prevent users from using emulation programs. Microsoft Xbox has the right to ban emulation from its platform. Microsoft explicitly prohibits the use of emulators on any Xbox gaming system or platform. But before we dive into the duplicity of Microsoft’s action, let’s discuss how we got here in the first place.
Though sale figures demonstrate the gaming community’s preference for PlayStation 5 as their console of choice, Xbox Series X is a perfect machine in terms of raw computational power. Although the difference is not significant, it is still there. The console’s younger brother, the Xbox Series S, while admittedly not as strong, still retains the core architecture of Xbox Series consoles, which is similar to the PC, making third-party software development—such as emulators—for said Microsoft Xbox consoles easier.
This gave rise to a massive number of emulators for Microsoft’s Xbox Series X/S consoles, which were capable of running older titles from other platforms, including the PlayStation 2, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo GameCube, and some Xbox 360 titles which aren’t supported by Microsoft’s official backward compatibility feature. Now, emulation itself isn’t illegal, but owning ROMs of intellectual property that’s still protected under copyright laws is, especially if you haven’t bought the game through official channels or run the game on the platform it was intended to run on.
Xbox gamers used to be able run titles from the above platforms. Microsoft acknowledged that it tried to enforce the policy but only at its Store level. Users could still download emulators from other sources. Well, that’s not possible anymore since Microsoft cracked down on emulation software, preventing anyone from running “unsigned” software on their console.
It’s quite easy to accuse Nintendo of the crackdown, given the company’s history of ruthless prosecution of anyone infringing on their IP even in the slightest manner. This is why the Japanese gaming giant is well-known for taking its most popular games out of its biggest tournaments, or even closing them down. Microsoft made it clear that Nintendo had nothing whatsoever to do with the emulation crackdown. They reaffirmed that they’re only enforcing their policy, considering that emulation has been banned from the beginning.
Here is where the double standards are. You can’t run any emulation software on your Microsoft Xbox console, even if you’re a paying Xbox Game Pass customer, with your console in retail mode. However, if you switch your console into Developer Mode, for a one-time payment of $20, you can run any “unsigned” software on your console. So, Microsoft is actually pretty chill about emulation as long as they get a piece of the pie for running their competitor’s titles on their native hardware.
We vaguely remember laughing about playing God of War After PlayStation, Xbox decided to port the reboot. God of War Coming to PC. It turns out that you can still access the Microsoft Xbox Dev Mode by paying a $20 fee.
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