In the past, Xbox users could install several emulators and frontends like PPSSPP, DuckStation, and RetroArch onto their Xbox X|S to play games for classic PlayStation and Nintendo consoles. Now, though, players can no longer access these apps, with the Xbox Store simply throwing up a message that they violate the store policy and are not supported.
As many have pointed out, this only applies to the retail mode, with the paid developer mode still allowing users to install and access emulators for classic systems. Nevertheless, this has caused players, preservationists, and others inside the retro community to call on Xbox to reverse the decision and "#LetUsEmulate".
It's worth noting that emulators have technically always been against the store's terms and services (under section 10:13:10), but up until now, Microsoft appeared content to mostly focus its attention elsewhere. This has led some to question why it has suddenly stepped up its enforcement.
In a statement to Kotaku, a Microsoft spokesperson offered this statement explaining its decision:
"We continually evolve our mechanisms for reviewing and taking enforcement actions on content distributed to the Store to ensure alignment with our Microsoft Store Policies. Per 10.13.10, Products that emulate a game system or game platform are not allowed on any device family.”
Obviously, this doesn't give us much context as to why it has suddenly escalated its efforts combatting retail mode emulation, but it does suggest the company will likely no longer tolerate those finding workarounds to play classic games on the system. This latest news has already led to an outpouring of disappointment and frustration from players using the system to enjoy their retro games with modern conveniences.