Xbox’s Phil Spencer expresses his support for game preservation via emulation

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In recent years, we’ve seen Microsoft make several initiatives to make the video games industry a better place, pushing developers to make their games more accessible and other platforms to embrace cross-play multiplayer. In a recent interview with Axios, Spencer said that the industry as a whole needs to do more to support game preservation so that games from previous generations will remain playable on future hardware.

In recent years, Microsoft’s Xbox team has made some big efforts to support games from previous console generations, with the company’s latest Xbox Series X|S being capable of improving OG Xbox and Xbox 360 games in various new ways. Earlier this week, Microsoft announced a final list of over 70 new backwards compatible games on Xbox consoles, adding that it had now “reached the limit of our ability to bring new games to the catalog from the past due to licensing, legal and technical constraints.”

Microsoft has built its own emulator on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles to play select backwards compatible games with the authorization from game publishers, but what about other games? While it’s possible to install third-party emulators on Xbox consoles, this isn’t exactly easy to do and it’s actually illegal to emulate games you didn’t purchase.

“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 in a direct message sent to Axios. It might be wishful thinking to imagine platforms holders ever agreeing on supporting game emulation on competing devices, but Spencer remains an optimist.

“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,” the exec said. Do you think the video games industry will ever take the necessary steps to ensure that games from the past remain easily playable on newer platforms? Let us know what you think in the comments below.