Xbox 360 is Microsoft's first console gaming system released in 2005. But it was soon replaced by the more advanced Xbox One console. If you miss the old Xbox 360 games but don't have an Xbox One, this article will guide you on how to play Xbox 360 games on PC.
Casual gamers think that because Xbox 360 was developed by Microsoft, you can play its games on Microsoft Windows (PC). Yes, there are games released for both systems, but not all. To fully enjoy the other games, some basic tech wizardry is needed.
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How To Play Xbox 360 Games On PC: Emulator Vs. Streaming
There are two ways how to play Xbox 360 games on PC: using an emulator or via streaming.
An emulator is a piece software that "emulates" the operating system of an original console to play the physical disc (or a virtual copy of it) on a different system (i.e. Microsoft Windows). It is basically a legal way of "pirating" one system and use it on another.
It is often a free and open-source software created by third-party developers. Aside from costing you nothing to use, these emulators are regularly updated by developers for performance improvements using downloads known as a "patch."
The drawback to using an emulator is that the performance of games is not 100%. There are always issues that affect the gameplay experience. Graphics are not optimized and often have glitches. The sounds and controls are wobbly and unreliable. The game itself crashes or sometimes doesn't play at all.
Streaming is a form of content consumption via the internet. Youtube is an example of a streaming service; the video files are downloaded little by little - or "streamed" - and played on a device like a computer or smartphone.
Game streaming works the same way, but instead of videos, the game files are played while connected online. The game is downloaded from the "cloud" and then played on your console or PC.
Because of its online nature, the disadvantage of streaming is it can be cut off if the internet stops working. Also, connectivity issue known as "lag" affect the game's continuity. Streaming is also a paid service, so it is not an option for people without a budget.
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How to Use an Emulator
If you want to know how to play Xbox 360 games on PC without constant connection to the internet, then emulator is usually the best way. There are many Xbox emulators you can download for free.
The most reliable and stable Xbox 360 emulator so far is Xenia. It is an open-source software that claims to be capable of playing 50 Xbox 360 titles without any issues. In order to play Xenia, your PC must meet the following minimum requirements:
To download this emulator, check out their official site.
Cxbx is another Xbox emulator that is free to use and open-source. Minimum requirements include:
Download the Cxbx emulator here.
Xeon is a special mention here. It can only play one game, but that is the popular Halo game. To download the Xeon emulator, click here.
How to Play Xbox 360 Games on PC Using the Emulator
Again, emulators can't run all Xbox 360 titles. To check which games they support 100%, refer to their website.
- Download the Xbox emulator from their website to a target folder
- Unzip the downloaded file and extract to a new folder
- Open the extracted folder
- Double-click the .EXE file to run the emulator
- Insert and then load the game by clicking File > Open
- Select the game you want to load
- Browse the menu to configure the settings
- Attach your controller and check if it is working
- Enjoy your game
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How to Stream or Mirror Content
If you have the budget and a stable internet connection, then streaming is the best way how to play Xbox 360 games on PC. Technically speaking, you don't really stream Xbox 360 games directly to your PC. This is it how it works:
Xbox One Can Run Xbox 360 Games
On June 2015, Microsoft announced that Xbox One will be able to play Xbox 360 games. This is called "backwards compatibility." This means new gamers and nostalgia gamers alike can enjoy their favorite Xbox 360 game on their Xbox One console.
Digital Xbox 360 games will be available in Xbox One online libraries (which may require membership). Gamers can also insert a physical Xbox 360 disc to download a copy that will run on Xbox One.
One benefit aside from enjoying older Xbox 360 games is that gamers can enjoy these titles with their friends via Xbox Live. They can also use features like "screenshots," which was not available before.
Xbox Play Anywhere
In 2015, Microsoft announced that gamers can stream Xbox One games to their Windows 10 devices such as PC and tablets. This was a step towards Microsoft' efforts to unify its gaming systems. This is called the Xbox Play Anywhere program.
The idea is simple: as long as you have an Xbox account, you can play the digital copy of your games on your Xbox One console or Windows 10 device anytime, anywhere. As mentioned, only digitally downloaded games can be played. The list of compatible games are available in the Xbox store. Some are free to download for members, while some need to be purchased.
In fact, you don't even need an Xbox One console to play the game. Just purchase the digital game from the Store app in your WIndows 10 PC. As long as your PC meets the game's requirements, you can play the game by simply opening the Xbox app and selecting that specific game.
The good thing about this cross-system play is your saved game progress can go back and forth between your console and PC. In other words, you can save the game on your console, stop playing, do your thing, then open your PC and resume where you stopped! This makes it worth knowing how to play Xbox 360 games on PC.
Play Xbox 360 Games on Your PC Via Streaming
Now on to the best part: how to play Xbox 360 games on PC via streaming. As mentioned, streaming games is done via the internet. But Microsoft offers another way to do it: via remote access.
Basically, you can access your Xbox One games via your PC as long as these two are linked. The two should be hooked to the same home network either via ethernet cables (the fastest and smoothest connection), or wirelessly via Wi-Fi (which can cause an unstable connection). This is called "mirroring" and the game loaded from your Xbox One to your PC is called a "mirrored content."
In other words, to play the backwards-compatible Xbox 360 games on your PC, you must stream it from your Xbox One. To do this, you need to tweak some settings on your Xbox One:
- On your Xbox One controller, press the guide button (the one with the X symbol)
- Scroll over and click the gear symbol to access the Settings
- Select Preferences then Xbox App Connections
- Under This Xbox, enable "Allow game streaming to other devices"
- Under Other Devices, choose "Allow connections from any device" , or "Only profiles signed in from this Xbox"
On your PC you also must also do some settings adjustments:
- Make sure both systems are connected to the network
- Launch the Xbox app on your Windows 10 PC
- Select the Connection tab
- Select the name of your console from the list that comes up (default name is "MyXboxOne")
- Once connection is establshed, new options will pop out
To begin streaming on your PC from your Xbox One, follow these steps:
- From your console, select the Stream option
- Or from your PC, you can launch by clicking the Xbox app
- From the My Games tab, choose the option "Play from console"
- Select the Xbox 360 game you downloaded on your Xbox One
- The streaming will now begin
- If you experience any lags, you can lower the video encoding level (Xbox app > Connection tab > Game Streaming > Quality.
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How To Play Xbox 360 Games On PC: Conclusion
Now you know how to play Xbox 360 games on PC. Time to enjoy the Xbox 360 titles that you never get to enjoy on your PC such as Red Dead Redemption or Crackdown!