Microsoft Xbox

Xbox Has Shutdown Retail Mode Emulation on Xbox Series Consoles

Microsoft shut down game emulation this week after a loophole allowed emulators to be added to the Xbox Series consoles to play classic games. Many users on Twitter and social media are not happy with Microsoft’s decision to remove the use of emulation in Retail Mode and have asked for it to return.

According to Microsoft, the reason why emulation was shut down is a rule in its terms of service, where a section of the agreement indicates in the policy emulation isn’t allowed. “The information currently circulating on Twitter is not accurate,” Microsoft tells IGN. “Our actions are based on a long-standing policy on content distributed to the Store to ensure alignment with our Microsoft Store Policies [sic]. Per 10.13.10, Products that emulate a game system or game platform are not allowed on any device family.”

Since the Xbox Series family of consoles launched in 2020, users discovered you could play games from PS2, Wii, and GameCube on their consoles via RetroArch, PPSPP, and DuckStation. Since then, Twitter user gamr13 has been playing whack-a-mole with Xbox re-adding the various emulators when Microsoft took them down.

“Essentially Microsoft would crack down on my uploads where they used to last months, to weeks, to days, until now,” gamr12 told Kotaku. “So I would simply re-upload the apps whenever they were taken down, to get newcomers and everyone back up and running.”

It became such a task to keep the emulators available, to the point where a Patreon was created so select users could be whitelisted for the various emulators.

Now things have changed for many users who used legal emulation through the Retail Mode on Xbox Series consoles. If you want to access it, you need to sign up for the console’s developer mode, which costs $20 USD.

Replying to MVG on Twitter, Alyanna McKenna, a developer on Microsoft’s Azure platform, said this:

To answer your questions, the primary reason for the ban is related to legal issues with Nintendo. While emulating itself is not illegal, it can be used to play games from consoles that are still under copyright protection without permission, which can create issues with Nintendo and its affiliates.