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[Updated] Project Scorpio will not require emulation to run your Xbox One games

UPDATE: A Microsoft spokesperson got in touch to say that the job role in question related specifically to emulation for the Xbox 360, rather than the Xbox One. It seems we'll have to wait a little longer to find out more about how games will scale between Xbox One and Project Scorpio.

UPDATE 2: In a back and forth, Microsoft has clarified that while there is "some work" involved to ensure Xbox One games run optimally on Scorpio, it won't require any emulation. One could speculate that Scorpio will feature similar architecture to the Xbox One in this case, albeit with beefed up, 6 TF specs. The original article is as follows.

Microsoft is seeking a Senior Software Engineer to work with the team that created the fabled Xbox One backward compatibility emulator, that allows us to play an expanding library of Xbox 360 games on our consoles. Interestingly, the same job listing states that the team will be working on bringing "Xbox One games to Project Scorpio," implying that Project Scorpio won't run Xbox One games natively.

From the Microsoft Careers website (via h0x0d):

"We are the Xbox Compatibility team. Our mission is to bring the 360 game catalog to the Xbox One, and Xbox One catalog to Project Scorpio. We have a culture of collaboration and lean process with a straightforward and laid back style. We especially value transparency, competency and self-direction.   We work in assembly as well as native and managed languages, in all layers of the platform. We eagerly work on some of the most difficult technical challenges in gaming, and love what we do.""Backward Compatibility is built on advanced emulation technology. We are looking for a highly motivated developer to build, debug, and optimize features related to CPU and OS emulation. This is often done in the context of diagnosing and fixing bugs in games. Intellectual horsepower is crucial for this role. Technically challenging projects with healthy and high-caliber teams don't come along often - don't miss this rewarding opportunity to contribute and learn like never before!"

Microsoft has gone on the record multiple times to state that no gamer will be "left behind" with Project Scorpio. The company has indicated that not only will every game that is available on Xbox One function on Project Scorpio, but also that games launching on Project Scorpio would have lower-end versions on Xbox One as well, with the exception of VR titles.

The idea that Scorpio requires emulation to run Xbox One games confuses the idea of games scaling natively between devices. The emulation layer could simply be for older games that aren't "updated" to the new system Microsoft has cooking for Project Scorpio, which would allow games to scale up and down natively between devices.

If the emulation layer is simply for games that haven't been developed to take advantage of the scaling capabilities between the Xbox One and Project Scorpio, it seems likely that Microsoft will bring the games to Scorpio on behalf of the developers, as seen with the Xbox 360 emulator.

Still, the job listing could also hint to the architectural nature to Project Scorpio. If the new console requires some form of emulation to run all Xbox One games, it could feature a wildly different hardware and software infrastructure than what is present in the current box.

This job listing raises more questions than answers, it could be a long time before we get explanations for these mysteries. I've reached out to Xbox to ask for some clarification, either way!

Thanks @vitorgrs for the tip!

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

57 Comments
  • Hmmm... I don't like where this is going. What if they do require emulation, and what if they require publisher buy-in like 360 backwards compatibility??
  • Considering they have promised that Scorpio will run all Xbox One games, I presume that there's a clause in the Xbox One game licensing agreement (under NDA) that says they will do this.
  • After the updates that clear this up I think it's hopefully going to work similar to PC albeit with specific settings rather than manually adjusting things. That would be the perfect balance as we who pay for Scorpio get better performance / visuals without any manual config. For some reason I don't mind tweaking settings on my PC (I'll specifically do it so I can get 60FPS tbh) but on my console I just want to play, and whether it's 30fps or 60fps on console you know it's been tested and released with the best possible experience on that hardware. I'm very excited for better console hardware which is updated more frequently, I just want it to still be a console and automatically give me the best experience. Very excited about Scorpio and once it's out my original Xbox can go elsewhere in the house, or become a dev device.
  • MS promises lots of things, doesn't mean a squat...
  • Since when has Microsoft broke a promise? And when something changes, they always tell us beforehand. So I don't see where you're going with this...  
  • honestly this isn't the real point of concern.  It would be more along the line of *they have stated that going forward, all MS architecture would scale to hardware.  If there is *some* emulation, that mean that not all MS architecture scales.  this would bring fragmentation from a Core (read *new*) and legacy (read *older*) hardware.  This to me is the real problem if there needs to be any emulation.
  • Hmm..thats a little unexpected...
  • So if you want accurate emulation, I've read that 10x the power is needed, or the same architecture Either Scorpio is 10x powerful than the One or we're getting an AMD again
  • AMD is already confirmed.
  • This could mean intel, even though its not. There was an architecture change from the 360 to XB1. PowerPC with RISC to Intel with X86. The original Xbox used a custom X86 unit. 
  • Wonder if Scorpio will end up basically being a Microsoft-built, Xbox-branded PC, with the ability to run PC & Xbox games. Feel like that would be a pretty clever move on their part. 
  • Bloated os would negate hw improvements. Would they sacrifice gaming performance for the sake of uwp?
  • Xbox One runs a customized version of Windows 10 with UWP support, and w/o the "bloat". Theoretically, they could do the same for a PC-style system, where it runs PC & Xbox games. Possibly restircting the system to only install games from a dedicated source (e.g. Steam), and removing all the legacy/enterprise components. Games could also be loaded into containers, preventing the traditional registry issues which plague PCs running standard win32 programs.
  • Loaded into containers you say?? Isn't that UWP :-p
  • Yes, UWP runs in containers. What I'm talking about is Docker style containers, for win32 applications, with an isolated registry inside each container, without requiring modification of existing win32 applications. Meaning, all existing PC games would theoretically be playable, without any effort on the developers part. Unlike UWP, which requires win32 applications to be ported over via Project Centinial. 
  • Or it's a pc and the Xbox app launches a dual booted Xbox one os and the windows part is suspended while the Xbox part runs natively. Then when you leave it just resumes windows. :) maybe? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • You may be overthinking this. All games require some setup to ensure they work good on a PC. With the games designed to run on Xbox One, it could simply be fine-tuning the Xbox Scorpio the recognize the Xbox One games and optimize the system to run them properly. It'll all part of scaling. My PC has different settings for different games. This engineer may lead the team to ensure Xbox One games do indeed play exactly as they did on the Xbox One with no adjustment from the player required.
  • My bad, I missed out a crucial part of the job listing which states this directly relates to emulation. Could be that you're right though, of course, and it just happens that they're all part of the same team, but it does explicitly state emulation in this case, why mention Project Scorpio if it's just for Xbox 360 and discuss reverse engineering and so on? Seems a little bit heavy handed if it's as simple as optimizing.
  • Maybe. I can still read it as Backwards Compatability being related to Xbox 360 only. You are right, it does raise more questions than answers. But with the whole listing, I can see it both ways. Given XB1 and XBS are on the same architecture, it's probably going to be more related to hardware differences than architecture differences like the XB360.
  • Possibly yeah, I reached out to Xbox for clarification. Interesting either way. We're moving into uncharted territory when it comes to consoles, UWP, etc.
  • Every game will need some adjustment when changing hardware at the level they are talking but, in formal testing, a small pre-set configuration file downloaded from Xbox live (aka game update) should resolve this. Or when it's release, it will have a patch already installed for configuration for 90% of the games out there (as most games should need the same adjustment level, as it's just hardware changes across the board), any odd ball ones (not popular ones or problem ones) will need a update from Microsoft. Will be interesting to see how they do this..  and if you NEED to have a internet connection to PLAY Xbox one games on the new system. I am sure there will be some older or not popular games that will not be able to be played on the new system, it's just what Microsoft does on lesser products (even though there might be a good size fan base)
  • I feel like this will be for games that were released before the whole UWP model. I'm guessing they want to move to something as close as possible to PC for Scorpio and may need to emulate (or at the very least virtualise) elements of the One that don't quite align to that model.
  • This is probably because Scorpio won't have the embedded ram that Xbox one has
  • Possibly, or just an "emulation layer" to up-render to 4K (rather than just upscaling the final image)
  • Interesting
  • Something must have changed with the hardware.
  • Maybe they can emulate the Media Center extender then!
  • This is very interesting, especially understood within the context of what Jez and Daniel have been speculating about in the podcast. Scorpio might be the definitive crossover between console and PC, which would bring game breaking (no pun intended) implications for the whole industry.
    So it will probably be a PC running some kind of windows game OS, which means that the games for windows 10 pcs and Scorpio will be the same and you will play them on either. And also entails the idea that a PC might get to run those emulates Xbox One and 360 games. It all just makes sense. Very interesting. Only Microsoft can come up with these groundbreaking paradigms. Sony and Nintendo just make their stuff, successful though they might be. This is another thing, this breaks barriers and redefines the industry.
  • I doubt it will be anywhere near as difficult as it was for 360>One. The architecture is pretty similar and I would suspect it will be Windows 10 based so it's probably more like patching something from Windows 7 to Windows 10. The biggest hurdles would be things like Kinect integration on certain games etc. I seriously doubt any overheads that the emulation entails would put too much pressure on the Scorpio.
  • you can rest assured whatever they meant by "emulation" here isnt even close to what it means for 360 emu on xbox one, its probably minor adjustments for games to run at higher res-fps and-or using better textures already made for pc, something like that, or certain games requiring certain xbox one-only hardware, scorpio is yet another x86 console, it will run whatever current ones run natively
  • The problem Microsoft is facing is that Scorpio will not be using ESRAM on the APU which by nature means there will be some sort compatiblitly layer required so that Games "think" this cache exists, but in reality it's not. It's not literally emulated, it's still gonna be x86.
  • The Scorpio might be the start of the Xbox digital store being merged with the Windows store, and maybe the Xbox app could have emulation abilities in the future to play Xbox game, as long as the computer meets the minimum specs of the Xbox 1. Or MAYBE the Scorpio could come with the Xbox windows 10 OS and they may sell the OS itself for gaming PCs at a cheaper price than Home or Enterprise, but that's only an idea.
  • Well, if as I suspect, the Scorpio is just a PC disguised as a console, then it seems logical that emulation may be necessary. And even if this listing is only for the 360 games, it doesn't mean the Xbox One games won't be emulated too. It may simply mean that emulating Xbox One games on a PC is far easier. And that need may be restricted to "older" Xbox One games too. Those released recently may already be coded with Windows 10 in mind. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Updated the article. Sorry for mix up peoples, totally overthought the wording of that job listing in a caffeine induced whirlwind of hype.
  • I don't understand the panic... It's x86 architecture and the current gen consoles are as well, meaning there's no emulation required. Upscaling, game packaging and slight interface tweaks should be the extent of any Xbox One games running on Scorpio.
  • All games on the XBox One Already run on Virtual machine seperate from the XBox OS, both of which run on top of a hyperviser.  In a way this is already emulation, as you would be programming to the VM, not the metal underneith. It would be trivial to move this VM to a different x64 based processor due to that design.  This might have more to do with a second generation VM that targets both profiles.
  • They barely had enough power to emulate the X360. Actually, it's highly impressive they've managed to do it at all with dedicated hardware. There was no chance no chance in hell X1 games emulation was anywhere near possible at this current moment in time
  • First of all, them should arrange the availability of Xbox One S for all markets.
  • Still interesting with the update.
  • Updated again. :0
  • :) I cant figure out the second update :P
  • Can't wait to get my hands on this console.
  • Clickbait at its finest.
  • I don't get paid per click, just fyi. Just miscomprehended the job listing a little at 5am.
  • Much ado about nothing.
  • Exactly!
  • Again?!
  • The original story was short on fact and long on speculation. Filler full.
  • I don't care if it uses an emulator or if it runs them natively. The point is that we'll be able to play our 360 and One games on Scorpio. Let's not get all hung up on on the unnecessary details.
  • Why is this so hard to understand for so many people? XBox One is an x86 architecture.  It runs the same core OS now as Windows 10 on PC. The XBox One literally is a PC with and optimized Windows 10 OS for playing games. This was done specifically to get rid of specialized game console architectures. Why would this change with Scorpio?  Why is this such a mystery? THINK McFly, THINK!!
  • Yeah if you turn in my homework in your handwriting Mr. Strickland will expel me! Think mcFly, think!
  • Well, the system WILL be designed off of DirectX (AKA Directx box=Xbox), the advange of that is it's very scallable. If you take a PC game that is done in directx, it will run on a lower end system (mid line, 3-4 year old gaming machine) with acceptable performance and will run on high end system with 4K at 120 frames a second (wish I had a system that could do that).  So it can run on both systems fairly well. This is one of the major advanage for DirectX... Now if the CPU or GPU is compeltey different, that is when they run into those problems (going Intel to AMD, etc) and some aspects will need to be emulated or the game updated. I hope the hardware is not finallized at this point. Tech moves too fast, they should wait till next summer before being final on hardware. As new hardware will come out that will be more powerfull at a lower cost. It could make the system bullet proof. I dont want to see a 4K console that does games at 4K but, the graphics level is lowered down because the system was designed for cost with lower hardware. If your doing to do 4K, you need to do it RIGHT.
  • I don't see the problem with this "emulation"... videogames have a fixed hardware, if the developers used some instructions specific for the One hardware, those instructions needs to be emulated on Scorpio. And I think this is only for old games.. I believe for now MS already have a newer XDK that compiles the games for both hardwares..
  • Project "already lost to sony" is all I am seeing, maybe this can turn things around?
  • That's funny coming from someone who's user handle represents an almost DEAD brand.
  • Thats super weird. Microsoft has market domninance in gaming, not sony. 
  • More damage control. Why is it only Microsoft keeps stepping into **** over and over again? Never Apple or Google.