Back in April, Microsoft announced it was banning emulators on its Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Xbox One consoles. Microsoft has reportedly now started suspending players who use emulators in retail mode on Xbox consoles. This means that players who are caught running emulators on their Xbox Series X/S or Xbox One consoles in retail mode could be banned from Xbox Live for 15 days.
The news comes after Microsoft disabled a loophole that allowed emulators to run in retail mode. Previously, players were able to download emulators as applications directly from the Microsoft Store, which would allow them to play retro game ROMs on any retail Xbox Series console. However, Microsoft later disabled the loophole that would let these applications run on the retail mode of the system (though users could still run the applications in developer mode).
Retail mode emulators are software that allow users to run games from other platforms, such as Nintendo or PlayStation, on their Xbox devices. However, this violates the Xbox Community Standards, which prohibits the use of unauthorized hardware or software to access Xbox Live services.
According to reports from users who have received the bans, Microsoft has detected the use of retail mode emulators through the Xbox Insider Program, which allows users to test new features and updates before they are released to the public. Users who have enrolled in the program have agreed to share data and feedback with Microsoft, which apparently includes the detection of emulators.
RETAIL MODE ON XBOX IS DEAD!
– 15-day suspensions handed out to users of retail emulators as a warning shot from Microsoft.
– Devs warning users to delete emulators
– Retail Mode team disbanding and shutting down the Patreon.
Sorry to bear the bad news. RT to warn others pic.twitter.com/nYAQHgtow5
— Miles (@HikikomoriMedia) July 27, 2023
The bans are temporary and only affect the online services of the Xbox consoles, such as multiplayer, party chat, and cloud gaming. Users can still access their offline games and apps during the ban period. However, some users have expressed frustration and confusion over the bans, claiming that they were not aware of the rules or that they only used emulators for personal use.
Cracking Down on Copyrighted Material
Microsoft has not officially commented on the bans, but it is likely that they are part of its efforts to protect its intellectual property and prevent piracy. Retail mode emulators are different from developer mode emulators, which are officially supported by Microsoft and allow users to create and test their own games and apps on their Xbox devices. Developer mode emulators require a one-time fee of $19 to activate and do not allow access to Xbox Live services.
When Microsoft initially announced its emulator ban a few months ago, there was speculation that Nintendo, which has a history of cracking down on emulation and piracy, was behind the ban. 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.
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, the company quickly denied any involvement from Nintendo in its decision. It is also worth noting the Microsoft/Nintendo partnership does not extend to Nintendo games appearing on Xbox consoles.