Currently, Xbox One users can play 360 games by either inserting a disk or downloading a new copy. It’s a key advantage over the PS4, which only offers PS3 games via a monthly subscription service. But is it possible for the PC?
Xbox head Phil Spencer says yes, with a lot of work. Unlike consoles, PCs have thousands of different hardware combinations, which makes a reliable emulation experience very difficult.
It would definitely fit with Microsoft’s vision, though, which is switching between console and desktop with ease.
Running BC reliably on all the different PC HW configs would be a lot more work than XB1, but never say never.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) February 7, 2017
Third-Party Xbox 360 Emulators
Despite these drawbacks, Xbox 360 emulation does actually exist in a limited form. Xenia is a work in progress, but can run close to fifty games at full speed on PC. However, as suggested by Spencer, hardware configurations are a problem. Getting games up to a playable framerate takes a lot of work.
There’s also the issue of copyright. To play an Xbox game, users need a .iso file of it, which is hard to come by legally. The platform is intended more for research purpose than fully functional emulation.
This leaves a definite gap that Microsoft can fill. The process could be simplified and copyright issues would be non-existent. Unfortunately, it seems quite unlikely that Xbox will be willing to dedicate so many resources. “Never say never”, is a far from a confirmation, and such a development would take a long time anyway.
For now, we’ll put our hopes in the latest IPs from Microsoft Studios. Spencer says there will be a new title coming this year, and it’s very likely it will be Xbox Play Anywhere. Halo Wars 2, State of Decay 2, and Sea of Thieves will also be coming to PC soon.