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Modder group restores third-party emulation for Xbox Series X|S

Microsoft may have shuttered support for third-party emulators for the Xbox Series X|S, but some developers have found a way to restore it.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

July 11, 2023

2 Min Read
Key art for 343 Industries' Halo Infinite.

Months after shutting down unofficial third-party emulators on Xbox Series X|S consoles, a group of devs have found a way to reactivate the feature. 

In April, Microsoft abruptly shut down the functionality that allowed owners of either system to play PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube titles. It meant that even downloaded emulated games couldn't be played, and was considered a sizable blow to the game emulation scene. 

Recently, a group known as UWeaPons Store found a way to return that functionality to Xbox Series X|S' retail modes. The group said it would avoid disclosing its exact methods out of concerns that Microsoft would close that loophole. 

Talking to ArsTechnica, a developer for the group explained that the new emulator package was written from scratch, and made to look unidentifiable. They hoped the measures taken to make the emulator look vague would give Microsoft longer time to detect it. 

Even so, they acknowledged that Microsoft "will eventually find out about the apps." Their only hope after that is that it won't take long before a new version becomes uploaded. 

"We don't know how long [builds] will last [before removal] just yet," the developer said, "but from our internal testing, we're hoping they will survive at up to two weeks, possibly even longer. Or they could be taken down in five minutes of us talking. It's a lottery."

The legacy of emulation is becoming more complex 

Game emulation is viewed as either an important part of the industry, or an extension of piracy that some publishers are looking to quash entirely. While Microsoft previously had a fairly neutral stance on the matter, Nintendo has been much more hostile to the practice, and repeatedly taken legal action against emulators and pirates alike. 

On the preservation side of the matter, emulation has allowed players to access older games that haven't been so fortunate to receive a remaster or be part of a library of classic titles. Even as it continues to be a legal minefield for console makers, many consider it the only real option they have. 

Because there isn't a unified preservation effort from developers and console makers, it means players have to do what they can to ensure its history isn't erased. And at the rate things are going, even the disjointed efforts being made by players may not be enough to stop games from the earlier console eras from getting lost entirely.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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