Video game emulators have long been a source of contention among gamers. Many people believe they are beneficial since they help to preserve old games. Others argue that they are bad since they may be illegal. But which is it, exactly?
Whatever you want to say about them, video game emulators have made a name for themselves in the gaming business.
Here’s what you need to know about them.
Advantages of Using Video Game Emulators
Nowadays, many emulators are “digital clones” of a specific previous-generation gaming system. This could range from the original PlayStation to the iconic Nintendo N64, the games of which cannot be played on modern systems.
But that’s where an emulator comes in, and its main advantage: graphics enhancements.
Playing a retro game on a gaming console emulator will give you significantly better graphical fidelity than the original—at best, several decades’ worth of performance gains, especially if the game is that old.
This is due to the fact that the majority of these vintage consoles are from the analog era. In terms of clarity, analog signals, according to MakeUseOf, cannot compete with digital video signals.
That’s why, if you try to boot up an old PS1 on, say, a current smart TV, you won’t get a really good picture—you’ll only get a CRT-quality image.
With video game emulators, these analog impulses are converted to digital and hence presented with more fidelity. Not to add, the game will perform significantly better.
Making video game emulators work like their physical gaming console counterparts is a demanding task, as is any programming endeavor. This is why several emulators have stayed unfinished for years (or even decades) after the original release of the system on which they are based.
A suitable example would be the RPCS3 PlayStation 3 emulator. Sony debuted the PS3 in 2006, but it is only 15 years later that the emulator can finally boot every single game remastered.
This isn’t even a guarantee that you’ll be able to play every PS3 game on it. Currently, only about 63% of PlayStation 3 titles are playable on RPCS3.
It’s pretty much the same for practically every single emulator out there. Making old games playable on modern technology is a laborious process that takes hundreds, if not thousands, of man-hours.
Finally, getting video game emulators to work properly on your hardware isn’t straightforward. They can be difficult to use for persons who have little familiarity with software. There are numerous stages required in making them work properly, and even skipping one could cause your computer to crash.
Are Video Game Emulators Even Legal?
This is possibly the most important question surrounding gaming console emulation. According to Business Insider, the emulation programs are legal in most cases.
Because they are free, downloading the programs (ROMs) you want to run on them can be considered illegal. Video games are intellectual properties, and unauthorized distribution of copies will be penalized under the law.
Old Gaming Consoles Still Exist
There is one tried-and-true solution to avoid all of the issues associated with running video game emulators: simply get an actual retro system. Every day, old gaming consoles appear on eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace. They’re usually dirt inexpensive and work just as well.
If you actually want to experience the old games that shaped your childhood, then an actual console rather than video game emulators is the way to go.