Skip to main content

Phil Spencer wants original Xbox emulation and Game Pass on PCs

Microsoft gave a big boost to backward compatibility on Xbox One by announcing the addition of original Xbox games to the program during its E3 2017 briefing, but Microsoft may have even bigger plans still ahead. In a new interview with PC Gamer, Xbox chief Phil Spencer hints that we could see emulation for original Xbox games come to PC in an official capacity.

When asked whether Xbox emulation could be in the cards for PC, Spencer was quick to answer in the affirmative. After explaining the difficulty of emulating the Xbox 360 because of its PowerPC architecture and the variable nature of PC specs, Spencer was more bullish about the original Xbox because of its x86 architecture. From Spencer:

The original Xbox, OG Xbox, is a little bit easier, because that was an x86 chip it was running on. Obviously when we think about UWP and the ability for games to run across console and PC, we're getting closer. I want developers to be able to build portable applications, which is why we've been focusing on UWP for games and even apps that want to run on multiple devices.So I think we've got work to go do there, but I think it's in our future.

Spencer was also asked about the possibility for an Xbox Game Pass-like service for PC. And while he wasn't willing to announce anything, Spencer did confirm that the team is looking into bringing the Netflix-style game subscription service to PC in some capacity.

This follows on comments Spencer made in another interview today, in which the Xbox chief commented on the Xbox One X's position in the marketplace, and how Microsoft sees the Xbox One S as a more apt competitor to the PS4 pro.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

30 Comments
  • This could happen as the original Xbox was x86 based.
  • Now it makes sense why Xbox to X360 conversion never really happened as they said it would. Gotta love today's computing power with virtual machines.
  • Xbox don't have many game i want to play today, on the other hand xbox 360 have red dead redemption, i would love playing that on pc with a better resolution.
  • I wouldn't hold my breath for better resolution. BC just allows you to play the title as is, with all the same textures and everything.
  • Better resolution would require a game to be remastered or patched. That's not how BC works.
  • If it is using emulation, you could actually change the resolution, it's not perfect but it can be done, and smoothing effects can help make it look better too.
  • The Wii emulator Dolphin is able to emulate Wii games and run them at native 1080p with full anti aliasing and so on. Emulators can improve a console's games beyond what the original console could support. Given the power of the Xbox One, it's perfectly possible original Xbox games could be played in native 1080p. After all, a lot of original Xbox games did support HD resolutions considering the fact that the original Xbox was also the first console to support HD resolutions up to the older 1080i standard.
  • He isn't talking about BC, but emulator
  • Better loading times is more likely, but probably won't happen.
  • just yesterday I tweeted him to bring x360 games to pc through emulation !!
  • That would be nice, unfortunately the Xbox 360 is Power PC based not x86.
  • That would be nice, unfortunately the Xbox 360 is Power PC based not x86.
  • That's why emulation exists... Doesn't need to be based on the same chip necessarily.
  • What they want to avoid its those who gonna try to run an X360 on a Pentium with the iGPU and then gonna complain about it.
  • This is great! I also want to see PC game streaming to Xbox One. That is really the only thing Xbox cannot do that shield TV can.
  • It's already there. Install Remotr and you'll have a game centered stream client not only for your Xbox but also for your Windows 10 mobile (thanks to UWP) if you have one. This app also creates shortcuts for your games to make the remote access easier and directs your Xbox controller to your PC which makes it perfect for your need. @Jez If you happen to read my comment, try this app and share your opinion. I feel like a lot of people are looking for this feature but they're unaware of Remotr.
  • That sounds awesome. I just want to stream my Xbox to a PC on an external network.
  • 360 games on PC would be awesome. Have like a 360 app where you can access your library or even buy 360 games.
  • If its that's easy why there is not even a single emulator on PC for original xbox?
  • DRM was the roadblock.
  • ...... https://github.com/Cxbx-Reloaded/Cxbx-Reloaded
  • It's because the OS and hardware of the original Xbox is a tightly kept secret and not very well documented to the public. It's easy for Microsoft to make an emulator because they're the ones that made the original Xbox and therefore have all the documentation available. But for non Microsoft people, reverse engineering the original Xbox and its associated API's is incredibly difficult.
  • Would work great on a shiny new Surface mobile. ;)
  • PUT EVERYTHING IN THE MICROSOFT STORE.   It's a WIN-WIN for MIcrosoft, it will broaden the fanbase of XBOX.  It will Kill physical media.
  • And the Xbox console will be on risk of getting out of the competition.
  • do they need a consol? can not 3rd parties make xbox consols that you could just run store apps? does microsoft need to be in the hardware world?
  • No, this empowers Xbox and empowers the user community. You can choose to play xbox consoles or windows, but always under the Xbox ecosystem.
  • Why the need to kill physical media? It'd kill the whole collector's market and in the future, it'd make games that are no longer licensed to be sold digitally impossible to find. A recent example is Alan Wake which had music licenses expire and couldn't be sold digitally anymore. But despite it being pulled from online stores like Steam, you could still easily buy used copies at any Gamestop. You see, physical media serves as an insurance policy to make sure that long after games have been pulled from digital stores, they can still be played and bought on the 2nd hand market.
  • most eary xbox games are pre hd i doubt i will play any. 
  • This is great, one more step in unifying Xbox and empowering the ecosystem. thx Phil!