As todays PCs are getting more and more powerful, emulating of the ‘older gen’ (Xbox360 & PS3) might become a thing now. The history showed that after a certain ammount of time almost every system has its official & unofficial emulators for various systems. Both the PS3 & 360 were released roughly 10 YEARS ago!
As for the technical part, most unofficial emulators are working by replicating the behavior of whatever system, entirely through software. And thats why way much better hardware is needed to emulate with a decent outcome. As for a counter-example like Nintendo, where even the Gameboy Advance could still natively play original GameBoy cartridges are exceptions and dreams of the past.
Alot of people whished the PS4 would have been backward-compatible with all PS3 games, which in theory is no big deal to accomplish, but in today’s times companys like Sony rather re-re-re-release so-called HD Remasters and sell them like full-price-titles. But this is another topic..
Xenia (Xbox360 Emulator)
You might already heard of it since this project is around since 2011 already, but within the last months all the pieces of hard work form together and huge progress can be seen.
The latest build from June 9th, 2015 now supports commercial Games at very decent fps already due to an improved interpreter version compared to the previous used debug interpreter!
As you probably noticed, there are still big graphical issues, but hey, it won’t take long from this point. You can follow the progress here: https://github.com/benvanik/xenia
What about PS3 emulation?
There is indeed a very similar project called RPCS3 by Team RPCS3 which is compared to Xenia far behind but already able to do alot of fun stuff.
RPCS3 cannot run commercial games yet because it’s on an early stage of development. Commercial games will be supported when the hardware emulation is accurate enough to run them.
You can follow the progress here: https://github.com/RPCS3/rpcs3
Remember all these guys work for free on their projects!
But is all this legal in the end?
I don’t want to talk about the emulation topic in general here but we can at least say Microsoft and Sony won’t like it at all. Emulators were always very popular because of the piracy aspect that comes with it. But on the other hand there is more to it like additional implemented features such as custom savestates, fast forward functions and so on. But in case you’re really interested in this topic you might have a look at the wikipedia page under legal issues to get an idea.
For the future
We have to face: It will take longer and longer to build perfect emulators with every new release of console generation. The times of ‘simple systems’ and less security which we call ‘retro’ now, are antiquated. The technical progress and possibilities are simply evolving too fast, or.. not fast enough?!
Even some of our nowadays smartphones got more power as the PS3 or 360 back in the days. Think about that for a while.. 😉
Catch me on twitter: @freakler94