Gamers love emulators because they allow older games to be played on newer hardware/software. Microsoft does not love them, unfortunately. The company has decided to block all emulations of game systems on the Windows Store. A new update to the store’s policies means all emulators will be removed.
Users now looking for emulators on the Windows Store will find they have been removed entirely. This includes the popular Universal Emulator app which allowed old Nintendo and Sega games to be played on new devices.
Microsoft has already hinted at this decision when it blocked Universal Emulator on Xbox One. At the time, the company reasoned it was because it was not created through ID@XBOX. It seems there was a wider motive in play, a complete crack down on emulators on the Windows Store.
The company has also decided to not offer a reason as to why this policy has been implemented. One reported reason is Microsoft’s plans for the Xbox Live Creators Program. This will allow dev’s to more easily submit games to the store through UWP Xbox Play Anywhere.
In other words, it seems like Microsoft is closing shop and allowing only Xbox-created games.
It is hard to see how this is not another nail in the coffin of Windows Phone. A quick browse through the Windows Store shows that (quality) apps and games are in short supply. PC users will be fine as they can download emulators online for desktop gaming.
However, Windows 10 Mobile users could turn to emulators to get gaming on their handsets. With that no longer being the case it is back to the limited titles available. There is an increasing feeling among Windows phone users that Microsoft is pulling the proverbial rug from under their feet.
I could also argue that Microsoft is undermining its own Universal Windows Platform plans through its treatment of Windows 10 Mobile. The company’s long-term goal is to have a unified platform across all devices.
However, Windows as a mobile platform is dying. Xbox One does have UWP too, but Windows 10 on the console looks and feels different. Also, despite Microsoft’s interesting ambitions, Xbox remains hardware for gamers. If mobile is not doing well (or being supported in a convincing way) and Xbox is so different, perhaps it is worth asking what UWP is for?