We know the issue of emulation is a complicated one. On one hand, video games belong to the developers and they have the right to decide when and how their older content is used. Illegal emulation often results in long-drawn-out copyright battles in court and individuals falling foul of the law often have to quickly shut down their operations and pay hefty fines. However, on the other hand, the desire to preserve and play older games is becoming a cultural necessity as video games become more and more popular. In a recent chat with Stephen Totilo (writing for Axios), Xbox’s Phil Spencer spoke about the goal of making old games available to new generations in the same the music, movies and tv programmes generally are. The short article is really worth a read but below are some of the standout quotes from Spencer:
My hope… 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.
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.Phil Spencer in Axios.com
As pointed out in the article, Xbox is definitely doing its part in this regard and several games from the OG Xbox and Xbox 360 libraries are available to play on their modern consoles through Game Pass. Of course, PlayStation and Nintendo both have some older games available too (we actually recently did a hands-on about Nintendo’s N64 + SEGA Genesis Expansion pack which you can read about here). However, it really would be great to see even more resources dedicated to legal preservation from the big names themselves. So talking about emulation so openly is quite refreshing to hear from Phil Spencer.