November 18, 2021

Phil Spencer Supports Legal Video Game Emulation

Xbox lead Phil Spencer wants to see a larger focus on game preservation in the video game industry. Speaking to Axios, Spencer said he hopes the industry turns to emulation as a preservation solution.

“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 wrote.

Right now, the three major platforms have very different approaches to making old games accessible. PlayStation 5 has backwards compatibility with PS4 games, as well as some games from older systems accessible through the PS Now streaming service. Nintendo Switch players can access NES, SNES, N64, and Sega Genesis games through the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service, but there is currently no way to purchase them permanently on Switch.

Xbox, on the other hand, has made a huge push for backwards compatibility over the last few years. Just this week, Xbox added over 70 games to its backwards compatibility program on modern Xbox consoles. Between Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, Xbox is currently the only ecosystem to support multiple generations of physical backwards compatibility. Spencer says consistent access to games should be the goal for the entire industry.

“I think in the end, if we said, ‘Hey, anybody should be able to buy any game, or own any game and continue to play,' that seems like a great North Star for us as an industry,” Spencer wrote.

Spencer has spoken out about a number of topics this week, including NFTs in gaming and the sustainability of Xbox Game Pass.

It's been a huge week for Xbox. After celebrating the 20th anniversary of the original Xbox, Microsoft released Halo Infinite's multiplayer over three weeks early. This comes hot off the success of Forza Horizon 5, which is Xbox Game Studios' biggest launch ever.

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN. You can find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.

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