Don't expect Xbox 360 games to run on PC anytime soon, though Phil Spencer says 'never say never'

Earlier this year there were rumors that Microsoft was testing running Xbox One games natively on Windows, and we've long hoped to see the emulation it's accomplished on the Xbox One carry over to the PC. The console is already similar to a PC in both hardware and software, right? 

Well, bad news: Not only was Microsoft not testing out Xbox One games natively on PC, but Xbox 360 emulation isn't likely a near-term thing, either. Phil Spencer talked about both in an interview with Giant Bomb this week. First, he explained what started those rumors:

"Microsoft Installer technology, this thing called MSI—if you go in your hard drive you'll see .msi files, which I've written in my past. We built this technology called MSI XVC that allows us to easily wrap Win32 games that developers are building on PC already, not having to do any kind of UWP blah blah blah, just 'I'm going to use the same game I'd put on any other store.' Every store has its own installer, so think of it that way. The 'X' from MSIXVC does come from our installer tech on Xbox, because it's further along than our old MSI tech. So yeah, some people got a little confused."

Now for the bit I was hoping for—that original Xbox and Xbox 360 emulation on PC? Doesn't sound like it's going to pop up fully formed anytime soon.

"I'd love to run PowerPC games on Windows, that's the 360 ones," Spencer said. "It was hard to get those PowerPC games to run on the fixed spec machine that we have with Xbox One. When you start getting into the variability of PCs that are out there, I never say never. Honestly we'd probably stream than before we try to run them natively, and I don't know if that's the best answer."

Sounds like those old games could be in Project xCloud's future. In the meantime, I'm still holding out hope I'll someday be able to put my Panzer Dragoon Orta and Ninja Gaiden 2 discs in my PC and play them like they're brand new.

Watch the whole Giant Bomb interview for a candid chat about Microsoft's showing at E3 2019 and its future plans.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).