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Microsoft gaming chief calls for industry-wide game preservation

Craig of War

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"Microsoft’s vice president of gaming, Phil Spencer, wants the gaming industry to work toward a common goal of keeping older games available to modern audiences through emulation, he tells Axios.

Why it matters: The industry has big problems preserving its past, as older games routinely become unavailable.

  • Many games remain locked to older hardware standards, including consoles that are no longer supported.
  • “I think we can learn from the history of how we got here through the creative,” Spencer said, of being able to go back to past works of art. “I love it in music. I love it in movies and TV, and there's positive reasons for gaming to want to follow.”
The details: Spencer is advocating for an approach Microsoft already uses: software emulation.

  • Emulation allows modern hardware to simulate the functions of older hardware and run game files, or executables.
  • “My hope (and I think I have to present it that way as of now) is as an industry we'd work on legal emulation that allowed modern hardware to run any (within reason) older executable allowing someone to play any game,” he wrote in a direct message.
  • Microsoft’s newer consoles — the Xbox Series and Xbox One — run huge libraries of older Xbox 360 and original Xbox games using this technique.
The big picture: Emulators are most commonly used worldwide by fans, preservationists and pirates. They run games from the original Nintendo era to more recent PlayStations, but there is no consistent use of them by the industry.

  • Even more problematic, the files needed to run games in emulators generally run afoul of copyright issues, as game-makers don’t support marketplaces for older gaming executables.
  • An example of how this plays out: an Android phone user can easily download an emulator that will run old Game Boy games, but Nintendo isn’t selling that, nor do they sell the files needed to play old Pokémon games in them.
Yes, but: Rights holders need to buy in.

  • Microsoft itself just announced that the addition of 70 more games to its catalog of emulated old Xbox games is likely to be its last, given rights and technical limitations.
  • An official industry emulation approach would require long-term online support to offer game files and to possibly check if the user has the right to access them.
  • Spencer, whose own platform has some of these issues, still sees a path forward. “I think in the end, if we said, ‘Hey, anybody should be able to buy any game, or own any game and continue to play,' that seems like a great North Star for us as an industry.”
The bottom line: Emulation isn’t the only way to preserve gaming’s past, but it might be the best.

  • “Emulation is the path of least resistance for re-releasing games originally written for dead platforms,” gaming historian Frank Cifaldi told Axios. “There just isn't a better way that is commercially viable.”
 
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QuickShot27

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Goes without saying they can’t look past making remakes gamers are very hungry for the one all be all console that’s the thing with older games just when you think now all of a sudden Nintendo releases n64 games in 2021 and there’s finger pointing
Grampa Simpson Meme GIF by MOODMAN
 
Oct 26, 2018
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Comes down to the publisher. Its all on them.

Problem is you'll get some who dont want to do it because they fear if you leave oldies on the table too long, some gamers will prefer milking $5 GOG games than spending cash on newer games that cost more. Got to keep that gamer cycling through high ticket items.
 
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Deerock71

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He realizes that in order to be the Netflix of gaming, you need access to YEARS of content. Play Pong on Gamepass.
 

MidGenRefresh

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For reasons out of their control. If they could they would make all Xbox Original and Xbox 360 games BC.

Good job omitting the fact why they can't do more BC, which what Spencer is suggesting would remedy.

632 games out of 2154 have been made backward compatible. Hard to believe there's not a single game out of 1522 remaining that they couldn't include. Very hard to believe.
 
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Knightime_X

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But they just shut down their BC program. Where's the logic?
The logic is to have an emulator that can be carried over generation to generation on consoles (maybe even PC as well, legally) where the OG dev doesn't need to remaster or code anything.

End game plan is to be able to continue playing games as easy as you're able to play PC games, regardless of hardware upgrades.
 
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Oct 16, 2017
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Good job omitting the fact why they can't do more BC, which what Spencer is suggesting would remedy.
Microsoft made their choice. They deliberately decide to focus on making old games fit new machines. As opposed to PS5 faking being a PS4 when it wants to run PS4 games.

I am not saying either method is superior. I am saying the issues MS is having is entirely by choice. Sony's method makes it hard for old games to take advantage of stronger hardware, but it does bypass issues with publisher rights.
 

ManaByte

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Microsoft made their choice. They deliberately decide to focus on making old games fit new machines. As opposed to PS5 faking being a PS4 when it wants to run PS4 games.

What the hell are you talking about? The Series consoles run every Xbox One game (except ones that require Kinect because Kinect doesn't work on the new consoles).

I am not saying either method is superior. I am saying the issues MS is having is entirely by choice. Sony's method makes it hard for old games to take advantage of stronger hardware, but it does bypass issues with publisher rights.

There's no rights issues with Xbox One games. The problem is OG Xbox and 360.
 
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632 games out of 2154 have been made backward compatible. Hard to believe there's not a single game out of 1522 remaining that they couldn't include. Very hard to believe.
It's pretty hard when only 1 out of the big 3 console manufacturers is determined to make BC and game preservation a reality while the other 2 are happy to make old games go by the wayside to increase the need for their overpriced remasters and remakes.
 

Trogdor1123

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I'd love it if I could buy all the old games from old systems on my current one and then have them tied to my account forever.

Would be incredible in my mind. Would probably make the publishers decent coin too
 
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SenjutsuSage

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But they just shut down their BC program. Where's the logic?

Microsoft is doing right by what they own the licenses to. They can't go and steal licenses and code to content they do not own and get permission to use. Microsoft is leading by example with their own content. I think you just wanted something negative to say, but didn't really think this one out.
 

Kssio_Aug

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Microsoft made their choice. They deliberately decide to focus on making old games fit new machines. As opposed to PS5 faking being a PS4 when it wants to run PS4 games.

I am not saying either method is superior. I am saying the issues MS is having is entirely by choice. Sony's method makes it hard for old games to take advantage of stronger hardware, but it does bypass issues with publisher rights.
Steve Harvey What GIF
 

Kacho

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Microsoft made their choice. They deliberately decide to focus on making old games fit new machines. As opposed to PS5 faking being a PS4 when it wants to run PS4 games.

I am not saying either method is superior. I am saying the issues MS is having is entirely by choice. Sony's method makes it hard for old games to take advantage of stronger hardware, but it does bypass issues with publisher rights.
Dude, what?
 
Oct 16, 2017
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What the hell are you talking about? The Series consoles run every Xbox One game (except ones that require Kinect because Kinect doesn't work on the new consoles).



There's no rights issues with Xbox One games. The problem is OG Xbox and 360.
My point stands. MS choose to run BC by changing the game software. And you need publisher agreement to change the software.
 
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Nothing is stopping Microsoft from licensing cars again and including every Forza ever made if they care so much about game preservation. Or Midtown Madness 3. Or PGR franchise.
Of course they can. The issue is not about whether they can afford to do it or not, it's about how the publishing/licensing system surrounding these games is antiquated and does not lend room to preservation. You seem to try and keep making this seem like a Microsoft problem for some reason.
 

MidGenRefresh

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So now that everyone called you out you're trying to deflect to Forza.

I "deflect" to Forza? Forza is the series I care about. Developed and published by Microsoft.

Clearly they didn't exhausted all possibilities. They simply exhausted all possibilities that don't require additional cost for renewing licenses.

They don't care about game preservation. :messenger_grinning_sweat: It's all calculated.

Luckily emulation on PC is progressing nicely so these games will be soon fully playable.
 

ManaByte

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I "deflect" to Forza?

Yes, you said this:

632 games out of 2154 have been made backward compatible. Hard to believe there's not a single game out of 1522 remaining that they couldn't include. Very hard to believe.

Then when people called you out for the disingenuous comment, you deflect and try to pretend that you were talking about Forza and Microsoft.
 
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MidGenRefresh

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Yes, you said this:



Then when people called you out for the disingenuous comment, you deflect and try to pretend that you were talking about Forza and Microsoft.

I gave you an example. 1522 games is a shit ton to choose from. I've chosen something that a) I care about and b) is published and developed by Microsoft.

We can deflect to Midtown Madness 3 if you prefer.

:messenger_grinning_sweat:
 
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This is why I like MS more than Sony these days. Although I do have some gripes with MS and big Phil, for the most part they are showing at least some appreciation for gamers with their policies.

Sony and Nintendo don't give a shit about game preservation. They won't even make old games available for us to buy at a reasonable price without having to pay for a shitty rental streaming service! When they do release an old game, particularly Nintendo, it's severely overpriced

Makes me wish I hadn't spent so much on games for ps5. When I can get a Series X I'll just go full gamepass, and wait for games to drop in price before buying them.

My gripe with MS: quality control. Who here knows that Halo CE and Halo 2 Anniversary, if you are on Xbox ONE X that the campaigns for those games are unplayable stuttering pieces of shit for the last year? Well, it's true. They used to run well but when Reach was added to MCC they broke those two campaigns (on xb1x). How does over a year go by where the two most famous Halo games, the games that MADE this company what it is are unplayable and don't get fixed? Keep in mind at one point people paid $500 for what was supposed to be the premium Xbox and furthermore it used to run well at dynamic 4k/60. How does Phil Spencer not learn of this and tell 343 to get their crap together and fix those games??

But yeah ..off topic a little
 

ManaByte

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He has a point. It's weird that so many games are left out of the BC program and that they're shutting it down when they 'care about game preservation'

Again you're omitting the reason they can't include them. They're only shutting it down because the publishing/licensing system is ancient. But good job ignoring the entire content of the OP, which is what Spencer is saying needs to change.
 
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urmie

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How is Analogue allowed to release FPGA retro consoles without any sort of licensing at all? Couldn't Sony and MS do the same for physical disc owners? I thought, so long as the game itself is not put up for sale, licensing is not an issue. Am I wrong here?

Imagine if MS released a "function update" for the Series X that will play the rest of your 360 and Original Xbox library, perfect or not perfect. No store involved. Isn't that how the 360 did BC? 360 had 500 Original Xbox games playable, including license heavy games. Heck, I'd love for Sony to release a new mini PS3 console that is 100% BC with PS2/PS1. I'm sure parts would perhaps be cheaper for the "emotion engine" and such. I guess a company would really need to be committed, I admit it require alot of work.
 
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