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Phil Spencer says he's in favor of 'legal emulation' of games

The head of Xbox wants to work towards a future where old games are as easy to obtain as music and movies.


Gaming emulation and piracy is one of the more controversial topics among video game fans. On one hand, it provides access to stories that one may have never been able to experience otherwise. On the other hand, it’s hard to excuse stealing products and finding ways around paying creators. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer spoke about the topic in a recent interview, where he stated that he hopes to see “legal emulation” one day.

Phil Spencer was speaking with Axios about the latest ongoings at Xbox and all of the new titles coming to Game Pass when he touched on emulation in gaming. “I think we can learn from the history of how we got here through the creative,” Spencer said. “I love it in music. I love it in movies and TV, and there's positive reasons for gaming to want to follow.”

As video games have continued to evolve as a medium, there have been increasing concerns regarding the preservation of older works. Even games from just a couple of decades ago have become unavailable due to hardware restraints or a lack in supply. It’s also not uncommon for games of the modern era to be delisted after just a handful of years on shelves. “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 continued.

Just this month, a slew of backwards compatible titles came to Xbox Game Pass through emulation. Allowing a simple way to access older titles will work wonders for game preservation. Game emulation is certainly not a new concept, but it’s illegal in most instances. With the success of Game Pass, it’ll be interesting to see if other companies in the industry adopt a similar model and introduce means of emulating older titles.

News Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Scream nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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