Microsoft Kicks All Game Emulators Off Xbox, Windows Store: What Happened?


Microsoft is doing some Spring cleaning and among the latest changes to take effect is a complete ban on any and all game emulators.

The company has implemented a number of new changes and it started allowing Windows 10 users to manually grab the latest Creators Edition update, but it has also updated the rules for Windows Store.

Among several policy changes, a ban on emulators stands out as a major move that simply delists emulators with no prior warning or official announcement, albeit it's not entirely all that surprising either.

Microsoft Bans Emulators

NESBox, the developer behind Universal Emulator, was among those affected by the change and announced on Twitter that its emulator had been kicked off the Windows Store as a result of the latest Windows Store rules.

Indeed, the updated Windows Store rules add a number of new requirements to the "Gaming and Xbox" section for developers, and Microsoft clearly states that "Apps that emulate a game system are not allowed on any device family."

Before this update, the "Gaming and Xbox" section of the Windows Store rule set only had one line, which promoted the ID@Xbox program as the place to go for interested Windows Store game developers.

Other Changes

Times are changing, however, and instead of dealing with the ID@Xbox program, developers may soon push games straight to the Windows 10 and Xbox marketplaces thanks to the Xbox Live Creators Program, paying a one-time fee of up to $100. Such games, however, will have to run in Microsoft's new Universal Windows Platform mode.

Microsoft will approve games added within the new Xbox Live Creators Program in a more loosened up manner, organizing content in a new "creators" subcategory. The games will still have to comply with Windows Store rules and the 11 subcategories that make up the gaming section of the rule set.

The rule regarding emulators is clear and concise, leaving little room for interpretation and offering no references to other potential use cases. Consequently, running open-sourced, homemade software on Xbox One using emulators is no longer an option.

This could also mean that emulating consoles to port older games to Xbox consoles will no longer be possible. We're still waiting for Microsoft to clear some things up, such as whether all computer and device emulation will be off limits or just some of them will be banned off the Windows Store.

The ban seems to apply to apps that target Xbox One or are mainly gaming experiences, and complements the bans that Microsoft implemented last year on some game console emulators compatible with Xbox.

NESBox, meanwhile, explains that although its Universal Emulator is no longer listed on the Windows Store, it's still working because the web browser version works independently.

Only Safe UWP Apps And Games Allowed

Lastly, Microsoft also introduced new rules to formally ban UWP apps and games that may pose safety risks or cause injury, discomfort or some other harm to users. This specification could be related to the recent targeted attempts to cause epileptic seizures via messages, files and Tweets.

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