This might seem like clickbait, but the Xbox Series X and S offering the largest ever console library in gaming is an open fact. Though this isn’t in terms of a direct library, even with their advanced backward compatibility options, indirectly, these systems are something special. Specifically, we’re talking about their online connectivity, and more importantly, their capacity as emulation systems.

Browsing the Web

Starting out, we have to turn to the basic inclusion of Internet Explorer on the new platforms. This might seem like an obvious inclusion, but for Sony and Nintendo, who have both struggled with browser implementation, Microsoft unquestionably comes out ahead. In simple terms, Microsoft’s browser on consoles is powerful, and no longer limited by the technology of last-gen systems.

What specifically makes this so useful for gaming is the arrival of HTML 5 and the death of Flash. HTML 5 is far more flexible than Flash, it’s also safer, and easier to run on consoles. Because of this, systems like online casino games can come to consoles like never before. From just browsing to playing table games or slots, even up to live titles, the new consoles can engage with online libraries with unprecedented ease. This doesn’t just apply to new HTML 5 titles either, as older games are also being ported to these newer systems.

html5 by michael pollak, on Flickr
html5” (CC BY 2.0) by michael pollak

The Emulation Contribution

Open and fully legal, the ability to emulate an enormous range of systems on an unmodded console is unprecedented. Accessed through the built-in developer mode, users can toggle their console into this mode and then simply download the program RetroArch. A big name in the modern emulator space, RetroArch acts as a framework through which many other emulators systems, or cores, are downloaded.

When in use, these systems give players access to dozens of different emulators from generations of gaming. These go as far back as the Atari 2600, and as far forward as the PlayStation 2. That’s right, even the original Xbox’s competitor system is itself playable from the new Series X and S systems.

As for finding the games, this is a little trickier. Essentially, if you already own a game, you can rip and play that game on RetroArch under fair use. For those without the patience for this step, ROM websites can help in downloading your owned titles. One thing to keep in mind for younger players is that many of these games will be ridiculously small compared to today’s titles. If you find an older game measuring in at kilobytes don’t suspect a glitch, that used to be how things were.

Xbox Series X by ru3chInitiative, on Flickr
Xbox Series X” (Public Domain) by ru3chInitiative

For those looking to get involved in new Xbox emulation, all you need to be prepared is a one-time $19 fee for signing up to a Microsoft Developer Account. Otherwise, for playing online games, all you need is a controller in hand, though we’d recommend a mouse and keyboard to streamline input.

All in all, these combined factors finally put to bed the age-old debate of which console has a bigger and better library of games. Sure, the PS5 and Switch might have a strong showing, but can they compare to practically every game on every system released before 2005? For us, and for many others, the answer is obvious.