As I understand it, the console marketplace makes it money from the software. Hardware manufacturers like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo charge a license fee which is used to subsidise the cost of the hardware for the consumer. Over the lifetime of a console the size of the manufacturer’s profit is down to how quickly the hardware production cost can be reduced and the amount of software sold.
It seems to me, then, that the more software sold, the more profit Microsoft’s still-hemoraging Xbox division makes.
Is it possible to run original Xbox games on your Windows PC?
A medium specification Windows PC far exceeds the technical specifications of the original Xbox and the two software sets are closely related in many areas. Microsoft has also proved that Xbox emulation is possible as that is how their (pitiful) backward compatibility is achieved on the Xbox 360. I have no doubt that it is technically very possible to write an emulator that allows Xbox games to play on a Windows PC.
How much could it be worth then?
There were 665 million copies of Windows XP installed at the beginning of 2007. Other versions of Windows totalled 190 million. (Source: Gartner Dataquest via Forbes.com). Windows Vista has shipped 40 million copies to retailers / system builders according to a recent press release from Microsoft.
According to this article on Forbes.com, it is estimated that Microsoft charge an 11.5% fee for each game sold on the Xbox 360. Let’s say that was true for the previous generation of original Xbox games. Current Xbox games are available at an official $19.99 giving us a license fee of $2.30.
If just 1% of Windows XP users bought one Xbox game to play on an Xbox emulator, Microsoft could receive 6.65 million times $2.30:
Perhaps that figure is a bit too optimistic. After all, a hit game is considered such after selling one million copies. So one million times $2.30:
Still too optimistic? Let’s make it ten percent of a hit game, one hundred thousand copies.
Nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars for relatively little work and just a single game.
What about ten percent of all the hit games on Xbox. According to vgchartz.com, there were thirty-eight Xbox games that sold over one million copies worldwide. Thirty-eight times one hundred thousand times $2.30:
Wikipedia reckons there are about 1,000 games for the Xbox. One thousand times two hundred and thirty thousand:
Remember, that these figures are pure profit for Microsoft. The games have already been produced and marketed.
Is there demand?
This is highly subjective, of course, as I think it is a great idea. But what about the video-game marketplace at large.
Currently Nintendo sell old arcade games on their Nintendo Wii and Microsoft sell old arcade games on the Xbox 360. Sony sell PlayStation 1 games on their PlayStation 3. Bleem even sold PlayStation 1 games for the Sega Dreamcast. Most of the vintage arcade manufacturers also sell retro game packs for various consoles. It would seem that there is a call for retro-gaming.
Mister Slimm Says
I’d love to see an official Xbox emulator for Windows XP even if it isn’t a proftable business proposition. Would I pay for it? At budget-game price, possibly, but I’d think much more of Microsoft if it were free.
Though I am no financier and have no official knowledge of the workings of the video-games market, it seems highly likely that such an official Xbox emulator for Windows XP could only generate a nice profit and elongate the sales lifespan of their original Xbox library.