Phil Spencer Thinks Emulation Is the Best Way to Preserve Gaming History

Phil Spencer Thinks Emulation is the Best Way to Preserve Gaming History

Fresh off announcing 70 new Xbox and Xbox 360 backwards compatible games to its library, Phil Spencer said the company isn’t done when it comes to preserving older titles. He spoke with Axios about the importance of keeping its past alive and playable.

I think we can learn from the history of how we got here through the creative. I love it in music. I love it in movies and TV, and there’s positive reasons for gaming to want to follow.

Phil Spencer. Source: Axios

Spencer calls for emulation as a way to preserve older games from prior console generations. He quotes examples of how their newer systems use this method to make older Xbox titles playable. In addition, Nintendo has (infamously) used emulation as well on ports of older titles such as Super Mario 3D All-Stars.

My hope (and I thunk I have to present it that way as of now) is 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.

Phil Spencer. Source: Axios

The use of the word legal is important. Emulation has been around for decades as a means for people to illegally download ROMs of older titles. Again, that’s pretty illegal to do and brings up the biggest issue with Spencer’s wishes: rights holders. We’ve seen it plenty of times recently with re-releases and remasters: certain rights and licensing, especially when it comes to music, expires, and the re-release and remaster is different in varying ways.

Rightsholders to the older games, some of which become incredibly muddy and confusing, would also need to buy in to see their properties re-released.

Whether or not Spencer’s desire comes true remains to be seen. Given the popularity of releases such as the NES/SNES Classic and PlayStation Classic, demand exists for being able to play our favorite titles from the past. Emulation may be the best way to meet that demand, given the wear and tear our favorite cartridges, discs, and consoles have endured over time.


Written by Jake Valentine

I am the Editor-In-Chief of BossLevelGamer. I'm also a lover of video games, food, and beer.