PS3 & Xbox 360 Emulation Is Coming, Whether You Like It Or Not

PS3 & Xbox 360 Emulation Is Coming, Whether You Like It Or Not

I have two retail copies of Wind Waker for two Nintendo platforms in my house, but most times, whenever I get the urge to play it, I play it on PC via emulation . Such is the convenience, and added visual firepower, of the personal computer.

Yes, the practice is a haven for people playing games "illegally", but I'm nevertheless fascinated by the field, both for the improvements it can make to a game's graphics and the sheer amount of work that goes into emulating an entire video game console's workings within the confines of a completely different system.

Right now most people associate emulation with retro systems, with working emulators topping out at the PS2 and GameCube generation, but as PC hardware advances folks are trying hard to add the Xbox 360 and PS3 to that roster.

In some ways, this will be bad news. Sony will one day be launching a service that streams emulated PS1, PS2 and PS3 games onto more modern devices, and that's a service that it wants to make money on. Normally the defence for playing emulated games is that they're no longer available; if Sony can stream old games for a fee, then that defence is gone.

But for others, regardless of this, it will be a godsend. Nobody wants to (or has the space to) keep every console they have ever owned just so they can play a favourite game or two. If companies like Microsoft are content to ignore their back catalogues by removing backwards compatibility from their consoles, and emulation allows people to keep playing, say, Lost Odyssey long after their Xbox 360 is gone, then they will do it, whether Microsoft wants them to or not.

I bring this up today because some pretty important breakthroughs have been made by a team working on bringing PS3 emulation to the PC. While no commercial games are playable, at least one is now booting, albeit with shocking framerates and graphical issues.

An Xbox 360 project is likewise progressing. Both are probably a few years away from being useful in any sense of the word, and it's a hell of a job ahead of them, but with the interest and work that's going into them it feels like an inevitable case of when they will be done, not if.

Users would probably need a few years' break anyway; there's no way anything but the most powerful modern PC hardware would be able to smoothly emulate a last-gen console, since many people's machines still struggle on some PS2/GameCube games.

When they can, though, hey, maybe we'll finally get to play Red Dead Redemption on PC after all...


Comments

    Still no original Xbox emulator yet :( Think 360 emulation is still a long long time away.

      No emulator? http://www.emulator-zone.com/doc.php/xbox/ - There's 3, there are more. Not sure how well they work, but xbox was just X86.. So you don't even really need to emulate much, just the small modifications they made.

        This isn't true at all though. Xbox was a proprietary closed beast, with no documentation and random PPU and SPE configurations out the wazoo. Those emulators are pretty garbage, and it's unlikely to see any progress moving forward.

          Haha damn, yeah just looked at some of them. You're completely right.

      The reason for no xbox emulator has probably been down to just the desire for one, due to the fact that the xbox had relatively few titles which were exclusive to that platform.

      Most of the big games you can get as native PC versions anyway.

      EDIT: Does anyone know how fucking hard it is now to search for stuff on the original xbox now? xbox... one? FUCK YOU MICROSOFT!

        ZOMG YES. WTF were they thinking with xbox 1.....

        Incorrect! There are a staggering number of xbox exclusives, close to 300 i think. Thats worth trying, but like others have said the xbox has terrible documentation and any progress would be excruciatingly difficult for the programmers.

        Try to narrow the results in Google to only show the ones prior to Xbox One' announcing?

        try:
        xbox -one
        does that help?

          wow, talk about necro reply, haha ;-)

          It seems to clear up some of the results a bit, so thanks for adding to my google-fu if nothing else ;-)

            Wow did not even notice how old this article was; it came up in related articles and thought it was current - my bad.
            At least well over a year later, it is still valid advice for you :P

              Definitely! Thanks for the suggestion :-)

      im excited for xbox 360 emulation because the xbox 360 can play all the original xbox games i want to play. so hopefully they are able to emulate the xbox 360s xbox emulator even if they cant get a legitamtely working true xbox emulator.

    I was under the impression that we'll possibly see PS4 and Xbox One emulation before we see 360 and especially PS3 emulation, just because of the newer generation of consoles is much closer to PC architecture.

    I enjoy emulating Wii games, just to see how beautiful they can look in HD, but whenever I want to play one I always end up back on the console itself. The ease and consistency of a softmodded Wii is hard to beat.

      It's not just the instruction set (x86, etc) that is the problem. It's the architecture of the console itself that complicates emulation.

      Unlike PCs, consoles have specialised architectures. This is why sometimes the game runs better on a console than a PC: there is no OS nor general purpose buses in place and the whole configuration is virtual known. Furthermore, these buses are tuned for gaming and nothing else.

      But because of this specialisation it makes emulation harder and requires significant CPU power to make possible. As well as the instruction set, the specialised buses have to be emulated and somehow the timings on the buses have to be mimicked. Having them run too fast or two slow will break compatibility with some games.

      Now a 360 emulator we could see but a significant amount of processing power is needed to emulate it because it uses a TriCore PowerPC-variant chip. As for the PS3, despite being based on PowerPC, the CPU alone is effectively a micro distributed system making it a nightmare to emulate.

      While I am aware there was a Cell Simulator for Cell programming, I never got the chance to play with it as Cell programming effectively died when Linux support was removed from the PS3.

      Last edited 25/03/14 5:23 pm

        Why on earth would you assume there is no operating system on a console?

        And what exactly do you mean by "tuned for gaming"? If you mean "tuned for low latency" or "tuned for high bandwidth", then that tuning is probably suitable for a large number of tasks.

          I agree with James the Xbox 360 and PS3 both have operating systems, They perform a lot of the same tasks that normal PC's perform. Remember that both systems can start without a game in it, so the games do not have their own operating system.

          I apologise for not proof reading my post (again).

          Unlike PCs, games either run a minimal operating system or significant subset of the one seen when the console is not running a game. But at the same time, even the full running OS is far smaller than others used on PCs.

          And when I say tuned for gaming it means the hardware is optimised and tuned for one given task. The CPU will have its tuning and well as the sound processor, the GPU and all the components that interlink them.

          Whether a given bus on a console has low latency or high bandwidth will depend on the consoles overall architecture and what data is being exchanged between a pair of components.

          Last edited 25/03/14 9:31 pm

    Normally the defence for playing emulated games is that they’re no longer available; if Sony can stream old games for a fee, then that defence is gone.

    I suspect that defence will still hold up pretty well in Australia given the state of our internet infrastructure.

      There is no defence. If you don't own the game, you're stealing.

        True, but if you do own the game then there's no reason why you should have to pay them a second time just to play it on a newer system, provided you're not stealing their new work in order to do so.

        I think the article's wrong. Just because the original company is making the game available again at a cost doesn't mean that emulators become indefensible.

          True, but if you do own the game then there's no reason why you should have to pay them a second time just to play it on a newer system, provided you're not stealing their new work in order to do so.

          Hm, I don't think so. All software comes with a license and you are given the right to play the purchased copy on the code on the required hardware.

          If the game is re-released on another form, such as in the Wii virtual console, your existing license to the earlier purchase, such as you original disk/cartridge, does not entitle you to an automatic freebee.

          Furthermore, if an emulator emerges the license also does not automatically extend to the emulator. You are only licensed to use the "official" hardware.

          As far as I can tell, the virtualise/emulated version is considered a separate product hence publishers are entitled to charge a fee.

          It's the same with DVDs and BluRay. If you get a movie on DVD, you effectively get a home media license to view that version of the movie on the DVD. You are not entitled to grab a BluRay rip later even if the movie is virtually identical.

          Just because the original company is making the game available again at a cost doesn't mean that emulators become indefensible.

          It becomes more of a point against the motivation for emulators.

          Personally, I don't see emulators going away purely because the devices needed to play the content will break eventually (unless it's a 360, their broken out of the box, :-P) and there will come a time where the hardware is too rare (thus expensive) to source hence emulators will become the only means to view the content.

          Last edited 25/03/14 5:36 pm

            Hooray! Someone gets it!

            Always run into this argument with the whole "digital vs physical" argument in regards to selling "second hand games".

            People always say "I own the game.... blah blah". But as you say, you do not own the game, you have purchased a license to use the game.

            Again, I'm not averse to emulators or obtaining roms for old games of which there is no other way of actually obtaining them. But I don't try to rationalise my behaviour to make myself sleep better at night ;-)

        Piracy DOES NOT EQUAL Stealing

        Why? Having a digital item copied and acquired for free, does not always equate to a lost sale. And a sale is the only thing you could have lost, as nothing tangible has been taken.

        Is piracy illegal? Yes. Is it stealing? Nope.

        Stealing - to take (another person's property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it.
        Having an unpurchased copy of someone's intellectual property (aka content) is not the same as stealing, if there is no loss of income, and if that content is not then sold on or otherwise used for financial gain.

        Last edited 25/03/14 4:51 pm

          Hm, isn't lost of income also separate from stealing?

          From what I can tell, lose of income is where you are preventing a predicted amount of turn over eventuating. Thus, it could only be stealing if the income is collected by the publisher/developer/both and I then somehow remove the collected income form their accounts.

          Stealing does not have to equate to a lost sale for it to occur. You have ignored the licensing agreement and copied someones property. You have stolen the 'currency' of the licensing agreement regarding the rights of the intellectual property owner. Further by your definition it iS stealing. By loadng a ROM or pirated game. - You are indeed taking another persons INTELLECTUAL property without permission or legal right and without intending to return it! - what is the source of this definition? How do you intend to return your game playing. How do you intend to return your interaction with the source code? How do you intend to return a broken license agreement? An agreement that is an integral part of what you have copied?

            You are indeed taking another persons INTELLECTUAL property without permission or legal right and without intending to return it!

            That still is not stealing because the original is never removed from the source.

            What you speak of is called infringement. There is a difference between the two and they are not interchangeable.

            Further by your definition it iS stealing. By loadng a ROM or pirated game.

            No actually you are running an unauthorised copy of the software outside of a EULA.

            Unless the original binary and even the source code is removed from the servers of the developers/publishers nothing has been stolen.

            For something to be stolen, you have to have it in your possession first and then have it removed illegally.

            Last edited 25/03/14 9:33 pm

              Can you not steal someones dreams?
              Can you not steal someones identity? They are still the same person.
              As I clearly state you are stealing the currency of the agreement.

              Last edited 26/03/14 1:02 pm

                Nothing is removed from a person's possession thus there is no theft.

                Furthermore, games and ideas fall under goods and services. Currency is used in exchange for goods and services.

                As I clearly state you are stealing the currency of the agreement.

                Games and ideas are not currency, they are goods and/or services. Currency is payment in return for the provision.

                And again, it is only theft if the object or source code is removed from the original source. It is not: a copy is provided.

                This is where the term infringement comes in: where one is making copies without permission or authorisation.

                Can you not steal someones identity? They are still the same person.

                That is called masquerading. Something entirely different again.

                Last edited 26/03/14 1:23 pm

                  Currency does not have to be money. I am not talking about games as a good or services. Currency in a contract is the benefits enjoyed by BOTH sides. Currency is not nevessarily money.
                  I can masquerade at a ball without stealing.. No offence but you need to provide some actual definitions rather than just opposing statements. I can steal a logo or design. I understand what you are saying - I disagree.

                  Oxford. STEAL.
                  Secretly carry off or APPROPRIATE (another's property). ;
                  Pretty sure copying is covered by this.

                  @fractripro:

                  Secretly carry off or APPROPRIATE (another's property). ;
                  Pretty sure copying is covered by this.

                  No it isn't. As a copy leaves the original in place it is not theft. Instead, it is infringement.

                  By the way, I double checked the meaning of appropriate and it too can also mean to take something illegal from another person's possession.

                  You can disagree all you want but it is not going to change the facts. Copying is not stealing, it's infringement.

                  Last edited 27/03/14 10:43 am

              I have given you an argument. I have shown you the definition of stealing. At no point have you shown me a definition that says it is not stealing or that stealing is defined by merely physical relocation. At no point have you given ANY definition that states that if the original is left intact that it is not stealinfg. You have merely given a non mutually exclusive synonym in regards to masquerade. Currency is not money. It's the mutual investment/benefit that makes a contract binding. You too can disagree with the facts/definitions I have SOURCED. You have merely said I am wrong. I am not the one ignoring what TWO definitions clearly state.

          You're completely right. Piracy is not stealing.
          Making an unauthorized copy of someone else's work is actually Counterfeiting.
          Still very much illegal though.

          Shoplifting isn't stealing. If you take a chocolate bar it does not equal a lost sale as the store keeper may not sell that chocolate bar.

            Actually, it is. Something has been removed illegally from the inventory hence is stealing.

      Also if you own a copy of the game, but the old console no longer works, why should you pay for the game again?

        Because it's the law?

          I thought we were pretty well covered for format shifting at this stage in Australia?

            Nope? Still illegal to format shift blurays, for example.

              Oh well, if I want to play Super Mario Bros and my NES stops working, I'm sure as shit not buying a Wii to play a crappy inferior "HD" remake version when I want to play the original.

                Damn straight son. Still illegal, but I'd do it too. ;)

            Nope, we still make reference to Video Tapes.

            Last edited 25/03/14 5:19 pm

          The law says you can't drive through parking spaces in a car park. But people always do. The law days you can't drive through a puddle and splash someone, but people do. Do you follow every law regardless of practicality or reasonable applications? Be very careful of you say yes. Until last year it was even illegal in Australia to record TV with a vcr or dvr.

          Do we still have those people with no ability to differentiate "rule" from "right"?

      Why sure Mate!I'm sure you big wig pricks in parliament give a ****! They are free to monopolize the market!!!

    This article is pretty redundant - of course it's coming. So is PS4/Xbone emulation. In fact, it's more likely that we'll get PS4/Xbone emulation working (via hack) before CPU speeds are high enough to emulate a X360, let alone the PS3's Cell processor.

    Unless consumer PC's suddenly jump up to quantum computing, the Cell is staying put.

      This.

      this article is the biggest load of Bs, the power needed to brute force emulate this stuff is not even remotely consumer available. Even in 10 years its unlikely to happen unless we get a computing break through (say a successful use of graphene in a GPU)

    Nobody wants to (or has the space to) keep every console they have ever owned just so they can play a favourite game or two.Yes I do.

      Yeah, Luke hasn't seen my lounge room. It looks like gaming history is gang banging my TV

        You should see my book shelf. It's so heavy that if it starts to lea....

        *creeeeeEEEEEEEEK*

        AAAAAAAAGH!

        *CRUNCH!*

        Last edited 25/03/14 5:39 pm

      me too, on both counts...

    PS4 and XBone emulation seems like lots of work for a few games. Half of Microsoft's exclusives are on PC and most of the 3rd party games are on PC.

    Actually PS4/XBone emulation is most likely a long way off compared the 360/PS3. Compare the number of instructions on an x86 cpu, vs the number on a ppc chip made for a console. Pretty sure there's a lot fewer instructions going through the console vs the PC. Notice that the original Xbox had never had a working emulator written for it. Just some hacks on 2-3 games that wrapped binaries using wine/directx hacks. There's a long history of emulating non x86 architectures on x86 and achieving high framerate, high cpu clock speeds. There is almost 0 fast PC emulation of X86 architecture. Just look at Dosbox and how it takes more than 2ghz of cpu to emulate a 486cpu from 1994 (20 year old chip!) vs emulating a more modern PPC architecture chip (wii/gamecube) The only way any PS4/XBone games are going to be made to run on PC is via sourcecode leaks of the console OSes, and then, only if a wrapper can be developed. I would think PS4 might be easier than Xbox purely because sony have avoided directX but that assumption could be wrong. It might be possible to wrap Linux or BSD to run PS4 games. Xbox One will require initimate knowledge of Windows, and without sourcecode access will be practically impossible. Usually emulators don't try to emulate all the hardware, they usually try to take shortcuts by emulating the OS functions that get used most rather than emulating every clock cycle of cpu/gpu power. XBone and Original Xbox are very hard to do this with. PS4 might be easier because Sony based it on a Unix OS. Pretty sure they modded BSD to make PS4's OS.

    Last edited 25/03/14 8:10 pm

    What is the point? The day one patches that make the games much more playable cannot be obtained and added to ROMS can they?

    I just love Emulation, and I'm a Pretty bad Pirate. I sleep like a babe at night. It funny because i don't need to justify my piracy, but its simple to do it, I don't want to waste money on something ill play for a few days and them forget about it, so i download it for free. I guess i don't cost the companys much money since i wouldn't buy the game even if i could. Most of my friends still Pirate to some extent, but they will usually buy it if they really like it, a bit of a try and buy philosophy.
    I cant wait for energy to matter scanners to hit the market, then i can do even more Piracy. Just imagine scanning my mates PS6 and having a copy of his console for free, Sounds imposable? nop, Scientists have just succeeded in creating electrons by colliding photons together, so light into matter is possible, the future of Piracy seems bright, and 3d printers have open up some useful doors for Piracy too, long live the Pirate !

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