Xbox Cracks Down On Emulation, Starts Banning Players

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Emulation has been a point of contention in the gaming industry for years, but console creators appear to be ramping up their efforts to prevent it even more lately. Xbox has become the latest of those to try and stop owners of its consoles from using them to emulate games, now issuing 15-day bans to anyone taking advantage of an emulation loophole.


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YouTuber Hikikomori Media appears to have been the first to shine a spotlight on the bans, as reported by VGC. The Xbox Emulation Hub Discord server is a place where Xbox owners gather to discuss emulators, and in that channel, you’ll now find warnings against emulating games on Xbox consoles while in retail mode.

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Xbox previously put a stop to emulators being used in retail mode, but a group active on Discord found another workaround, requesting $2 each from anyone who wanted to know how to use it. That same group is now telling people to stop using the workaround as 15-day bans are being handed out. The group also claims some people have received permanent bans for attempting to upload Xbox emulators that work when running the console in retail mode.

Retail mode is the regular mode your Xbox runs in. It seems emulators can still be used in the console’s developer mode, and while that’s fine for emulation fans, it isn’t ideal. Players cannot run retail games or regular apps when in developer mode, nor can they make the most of Xbox’s quick resume feature. Potentially a small price to pay considering a 15-day ban will be hanging over them if they dare to emulate in retail mode from now on.

This crackdown on Xbox emulation might come as a surprise to some considering Phil Spencer has spoken of his support for it in the past. Less than two years ago, Spencer claimed he wants legal emulation to be standard for all consoles in the future. This feels like a step away from those comments, as do Nintendo’s continued efforts to stamp out emulation of its own games.

The latest move from Nintendo to stop emulation appears to have worked. Dolphin attempted to bring its emulator to Steam earlier this year, but the mere threat of legal action from Nintendo has abruptly brought an end to that venture. Nintendo claimed emulation stifles innovation and harms developers even though Dolphin only emulates Wii and GameCube games, almost all of which are currently unavailable on modern consoles.

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