Emulators have been a big part of gaming for decades. However, Microsoft is shutting down the niche practice by banning emulation on its Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Furthermore, the company has also said that the decision has nothing to do with Nintendo, with many games claiming the Japanese company influenced Microsoft's stance.
If you are unfamiliar with emulators, they are software that literally emulates games from one system onto another. For example, emulators on Xbox allow players to access PlayStation and Nintendo games on the Xbox Series X or S.
Microsoft says that the ban was based on its longstanding policy on content distributed to the Store, which prohibits products that emulate a game system or game platform.
Speaking with Kotaku, a Microsoft spokesperson said that “We continually evolve our mechanisms for reviewing and taking enforcement actions on content distributed to the Store to ensure alignment with our Microsoft Store Policies. Per 10.13.10, Products that emulate a game system or game platform are not allowed on any device family.”
Was Nintendo Driving Microsoft's Decision?
The move sparked speculation that Nintendo, which has a history of cracking down on emulation and piracy, was behind the ban. A tweet from a Microsoft employee in the Azure department claimed that she had received an email from a friend at the Xbox QA team, who said that the primary reason for the ban was related to legal issues with Nintendo.
However, Microsoft has now denied this is the case, telling IGN that “the information currently circulating on Twitter is not accurate”.
Microsoft added that users can still emulate games on their Xbox consoles, but only if they put them in Developer Mode, which requires a paid subscription. This mode allows users to create and test games and apps for Xbox platforms but also disables some features and services such as Xbox Live.
It is worth noting that Microsoft and Nintendo are becoming increasingly close partners, despite remaining rivals in the gaming market. Microsoft has had Nintendo content such as Mario in Minecraft in the past. More substantially, the two companies entered a recent agreement to keep Call of Duty on Nintendo consoles for 10 years.
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