The Xbox 360 Store is set to shut on 29 July 2024, with no further purchases of games or DLC allowed beyond this date. While the move is not unexpected, given the store’s tenure and the need for ongoing maintenance, Microsoft’s recent announcement caused major ripples online. Beyond concerns about purchased content – which will remain accessible – many also point out the impact the closure would have on game preservation efforts.
Microsoft has made great inroads in this area, ensuring many of the most popular Xbox and Xbox 360 games remain backward compatible on modern consoles. But as VGC analysis revealed, around 220 digital games exclusive to the Xbox 360 Store will disappear with its closure. This includes an array of digital releases for popular games also available on other platforms, as well as store-exclusive games.
According to Microsoft Head of Gaming Phil Spencer, those 220 games are front of mind for Microsoft, as game preservation remains a core focus for the company.
‘There’s a list of, what 220 games that are not back compat, and I have that list and I’ve got it stapled on my forehead, and like, how can we make sure [you can play them still?],’ he recently told Eurogamer in a comprehensive interview. ‘How many of those are on PC? That’s one thing, because it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be able to play it on the existing hardware that you bought 15 years ago, but preservation is front and centre when all these decisions are made.’
‘I will say for us that preservation that’s linked to only one piece of hardware is a challenge. Because there can be hardware love as well – people who love and want this device to do this forever – but mechanical things will break over time. But that’s why we gave people with this decision a year.’
Spencer believes the year-long headstart for the store closure will allow players to purchase any games they want to preserve, leaving a window before they disappear entirely. That said, he also acknowledged the loss of the 220 digital-only games was cause for concern – and that he ‘would love to find solutions for those games to continue to play’.
At this stage, it’s unclear what that solution looks like, but given Spencer has been a big advocate for emulation and its capacity to ensure games history is not lost, we suspect this technology may come into play in future – whether in official form, or otherwise. Whatever the case, Microsoft’s continued focus on preservation is heartening in an era where games history is continuously under threat from store closures and game shut downs.