Guide: Xbox Series S/X and Xbox One Emulation

Guide: Xbox Series S/X and Xbox One Emulation

Last updated: 16SEP2021 (see Changelog for details)

In my quest to find great emulation at a budget price, the idea of running games on the Xbox series devices recently came on my radar. Considering that the Xbox Series S retails for $300, I decided to pick one up and test its performance against a similarly-priced PC, and the results are fantastic.

In addition to running classic games up to PS2 with higher resolutions, you maintain all of the functionality of the retail Xbox, and the whole endeavor is completely legal and available through Xbox’s Dev Mode process (after a $19 fee). It does take some configuration to get set up, and so this guide will help you through that process and get you well on your way for all the retro gaming your heart could desire.

There are other ways of playing retro games on your Xbox, to include getting whitelisted for an app store that launches a fork of RetroArch from the retail Xbox side, as well as a program called Tnavigator. But the use of these apps is a little sketchy since they circumnavigate Microsoft’s Dev Mode, and so for this guide we will only focus on the Dev Mode process and official RetroArch releases.

This guide would not be possible without the excellent work done by Ryan over at Archades Games, whose Xbox emulator tutorials are comprehensive and relevant. Many of the files used in this guide (including the reverted versions of RetroArch cores for PS2) are borrowed from his tutorials. For further exploration of specific systems, I recommend checking out his channel, and consider contributing to his Patreon page.

Note that this guide will work on Xbox One consoles too, but will require a different DevKit Activation app (more info in that section of the guide). All other parts of this guide apply. Performance will be worse than on the Xbox Series consoles; while I haven’t tested it myself, I have been told that the Xbox One is more than capable of playing Dreamcast and below.

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