Xbox head Phil Spencer has passionately spoken about seeing game preservation in the video game industry, and supports legal emulation. In fact, he hopes the industry will turn emulation into a means of preserving video games.
Speaking to Axios recently, Spencer talked about game preservation and using legal video game emulation as a solution to that problem. The Xbox platform, out of all competitors on the market, has leaned heavily into the idea via their continued support of making games backward compatible as well as playable via Xbox Game Pass.
Spencer stated that he “hopes” the industry will work on legal 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 isn’t entirely wrong as it’s possible to execute this goal on more powerful modern hardware – and it’s definitely a mission for Xbox as they continue to bolster their growing library of backward compatible titles – but emulation and preservation varies depending on the company. For example, Sony allowed the PS5 to be backward compatible with PS4 games, as well as putting older titles on the PlayStation Now streaming service. Meanwhile, Nintendo has also committed to bring NES, SNES, N64, and Sega Genesis games to Nintendo Switch via their online subscription service.
At the moment, Xbox is the only platform that allows multiple generations of backward compatible titles to playable with physical discs, though for the original Xbox, there’s still a lot to be done. If you own an Xbox Series X, a vast majority of Xbox 360 and all Xbox One games are playable if you still have the physical discs. Backward compatibility is something that both PlayStation and Nintendo are still working on, though Spencer’s push for legal game emulation might be a viable solution after all.