Back in the day, an obsolete video game console tended to equal dead games tied to the platform and unless you scoured flea markets or your attic it meant no more old games for you.

Without a digital download infrastructure in place on non-internet connected video game consoles, old games died with their generation until coders came up with ways to emulate the old tech and allow people to play legally dubious [1], [2] rips of old games on their PCs.

Such was the desire for older titles that manufacturers saw the opportunity to let people buy legal versions of many long-lost classics. As a result, consoles now include official emulators, developers re-release old games and in many cases add new features to the occasional masterpiece.

With so many old games now available on services such as Steam, Xbox Live and PSN, attention has shifted elsewhere for some and we’re seeing a desire for emulation of the most recent batch of games consoles – Xbox One, 360, PS4 and so on.

The Xbox is by all accounts an astonishingly difficult thing to emulate. Someone spent four years of their life on an emulator called “Xenia” to get a slow version of Frogger running on a PC. Nobody is going to have GTA5, Modern Warfare or Halo 3 running on an emulator anytime soon.

Here’s how the current system specs stack up for the most recent gen of hardware. You’ll notice emulators of newer machines are conspicuous by their absence – Microsoft themselves are still looking at how to emulate the 360 on the Xbox One, and this really isn’t something you can just conjure up out of the blue.

With that in mind, here are some of the websites we’ve seen claiming to offer up functional versions of seventh and eighth generation consoles starting with the Xbox 360.

Xbox 360: “XeMu360”

The first site we’re going to look at is located at

xbox360emulator(dot)net

They claim to have a functional Xbox 360, complete with screenshots of popular titles happily playing away inside the program.

To get it to run, you need to grab two different downloads – one is the emulator itself, and the other is the Xbox 360 “BIOS“. The former file is easily downloadable; they encourage you to grab the latter after having Liked their page on various social networks.

Should you download and run the Emulator file (which requires Microsoft .NET framework to be installed on the PC beforehand), this is what you’ll see:

BIOS files not loaded

The BIOS files are not loaded, would you like to download the missing files?

Clicking the Yes button takes you back to their website to download the supposed BIOS.

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Users of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware will find we detect the BIOS executable as PUP.Optional.OutBrowse (VirusTotal 14 / 54, Malwr analysis).

Xbox One Emulators

We have a few Xbox One Emulator sites to take a look at. First up, a site which doesn’t seem to name their program:

xbox-emulator(dot)com

The site claims to have a fully functional XBox One Emulator which took them “months” to put together.

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We checked the source code of the Xbox 360 and Xbox One games...sounds easy but it took many months

Keep “four years to get Frogger up and running in mind” while reading this. They also claim there are something like 60k people using this thing, and they also mention there’s a functional version of multiplayer available.

On top of all that, it runs on “Windows 7, Mac and Linux.”

I particularly like the download page which has a comment saying “I’ve waited years for this”.

"Years..."

I’m sure you have indeed waited years for an emulator of a console which launched in November, 2013. They need you to “complete an offer” to download the .rar, because placing the file behind surveys “protects Xbox One emulator from bots and will make them last longer”.

I have to admit, I don’t really understand what “bots” are going to do to the download but you may want to reconsider filling in the surveys to get your hands on whatever lurks behind the survey prompt.

Xbox One: “EMUX v 1.2.0”

This emulator site, located at

xboxoneemux(dot)com

makes some bold claims. Like the other Xbox One Emulator, it works on Windows, Mac and Linux. This one takes it to the next level of emulation though – not only does it come with the ROM “built-in”, they have apparently achieved the impossible:

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Besides just Xbox One games our emulator is able to run all Xbox 360 games as well, so actually you have two gaming consoles built inside one software!

This would be a good time to cast our minds back to one of the links at the start of this blog – the one where Microsoft themselves are “finding it hard to emulate PowerPC stuff on the X86 stuff” and have no plans to emulate the older console on the Xbox One. Yet somehow there’s a website with an emulator giving us the best of both worlds?

I rather think anybody being able to make a two in one emulator like this could pretty much write their own cheques. Yet what do they want in return for this near miracle of programming skill?

Surveys!

They want you to fill in some surveys and offers.

Xbox One: “Xeon1”

A final attempt at an Xbox One emulator, located at

xboxoneemulator(dot)org

There’s the usual text about how it comes with lots of upgrades, works in Windows 8.1, how “opcodes” have been added to their network system and so on. Here’s the System Requirements page, which is bursting with information:

Requirements...

Quad cores

My personal favourite, the About page:

About...

Herp derp.

Brilliant.

You have to share the page on various social media channels to obtain the download, which Malwarebytes Anti-Malware detects as PUP.Optional.Amonetize (VirusTotal 4 / 54, Malwr Analysis).

Powering Down

The conclusion here is to take any and all claims of console emulation with a huge grain of salt (perhaps six or seven buckets worth). Make no mistake, when – if – somebody manages to put together a fully functional emulator of the most powerful consoles around, it’ll be all over the gaming press. Emulators are usually in the news for one reason or another, but the only thing Xbox 360 / One emulators are really known for is their elusiveness.

Christopher Boyd