Xbox 360 Emulation Is Coming Along Well, Says Dev Team

Since the Xbox One doesn't allow you play your old Xbox 360 games since it lacks backwards compatibility, you may be able to find an alternative in a Steam Machine. Yep, PCs may be running old (and new) Xbox 360 games sooner than the Xbox One.

According to the lead developer on the Xbox 360 Xenia project, he recently made some promising comments about emulating the seventh generation console from Microsoft, noting on a hacker's thread [via Reddit]...

“Author here. Yeah, the readme is meant to scare off people. Even with it I still get people on IRC or email asking me if they can play game X or where they can get a copy. The note about no downloads is for all those who download 360 emulators from shady YouTube links and such - there's a surprising number of fakes packed with malware and viruses floating around.“Status of the project is that it's coming along well, after a long period of inactivity. Many games get to title screens though don't draw much. I'm really hoping AMD gets its shit together and releases Mantle soon, as that will make emulating the GPU related things significantly easier.”

This is pretty slick news.

Sony was smart enough to think a way around the backwards compatibility conundrum by introducing PlayStation Now, something they've shown a great affinity for bringing to the public light, so much so that they even demoed Beyond: Two Souls running on the PS4 at CES 2014. If they weren't going to do it someone else would have... like with the Xenia.

Both the Xbox One and PS4 are running x86 architecture – a change from the Cell and PowerPC sets they were using in the PS3 and Xbox 360 respectively – the change disabled any brute force emulation for the previous generation's software. Sony took that opportunity to spearhead a digital alternative with PlayStation Now... Microsoft, well, they dropped a lot of buzzwords and talk about an “all digital future”.

Where-as the Xbox 360 had light backwards compatibility when it launched, and the same could be said of the PS3, the lack of that feature for the Xbox One and PS4 has created quite the stir of tumult in the gaming community given that there aren't a lot of games available for either new-gen console. This gives the Steam Machine a huge level-up on the competition... assuming the Xenia team can get a working emulator out there in time.

In addition to being able to stream PC games between host/client PCs, the Steam Machine's ability to work as a standard desktop enables it to emulate past games as well. The ability to emulate Xbox 360 games would essentially, and theoretically, mean that the Steam Machines would be tapped into being the “all-in-one” media entertainment solution a lot more than Microsoft's own Xbox One. This looks even worse yet, given that Kinect is completely compatible with PCs, meaning that even the motion-based Xbox games could still be played on the Steam Machine.

Nevertheless, full emulation is still a ways off and you'll need a pretty hefty rig. The whole concept of the team making enough headway to get some games to boot to the title screen while running natively on the emulator is an awesome thing. Maybe the news will get Microsoft to act a bit quicker in offering a solution to Xbox One owners for backwards comopatibility, because right now the Steam Machine is looking like a beautiful $500 option for anyone who not only wants a lot of power and performance from their living room solution, but a diverse and extensive library of both PC and Xbox 360 games (amongst many other libraries of emulated platforms).

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.