How to Install the RetroArch Emulator on Xbox Series X or S (2022)

How to Install the RetroArch Emulator on Xbox Series X or S (1)

Thanks to Developer Mode on the Xbox Series X and S, you can install emulators like RetroArch. Turn your Xbox Series X or S into a retro gaming powerhouse and emulate the PS2, GameCube, Dreamcast, and more, all without impacting your ability to play retail games.

First, Activate Developer Mode

The first thing you have to do is activate Developer Mode on your Xbox. To do so, you’ll need a paid Microsoft Partner developer account. This requires a one-time fee of $19 (pricing is different in other regions). Once you’ve activated your account, you can add your Xbox as a developer console.

RELATED: How to Put Your Xbox Series X or S into Developer Mode

How to Install the RetroArch Emulator on Xbox Series X or S (2)

With a valid developer account, you can download the Xbox Dev Mode app, activate your console in Partner Center, and then reboot in Developer Mode. From there, it’s just a matter of configuring your network connection, and then accessing the Xbox Developer Mode web interface via a browser.

For this guide, we’ll assume you’ve followed the full setup procedure and your console is already booted in Developer Mode.

Installing the RetroArch Emulator

RetroArch is an emulator that works on virtually every platform and has a UWP package made just for Xbox One (and the Series X and S, by extension). This multisystem emulator uses plugins or “cores” to expand support for lots of different systems. You can choose which cores you want to use and switch between them for the best performance.

RetroArch makes it possible to play games from a huge variety of platforms right on your Xbox. This includes arcade machines, retro consoles (like SNES and Genesis), modern handhelds (like PSP), and early 3D home consoles (like Sony PlayStation, Nintendo N64, and Sega Dreamcast).

(Video) [Xbox Series X|S] Retroarch Install Guide - Dev Mode

To get going, you first have to download and install RetroArch. On a computer, just head to the RetroArch Downloads page and grab the Xbox One version and the “Microsoft Visual C++ 2015 UWP Runtime Package” dependency file.

Then, access the Xbox Developer Mode web interface by visiting the web address in the “Remote Access” section in Dev Home on your console.

How to Install the RetroArch Emulator on Xbox Series X or S (3)

Select “Add” on the Home page to access the file upload interface, and then drag and drop the APPXBUNDLE file you downloaded into the box (or click “Choose File” and locate it). Select “Next,” and then locate the dependency file you downloaded.

Click “Start,” wait for the process to complete, and then select “Done” after everything is transferred.

How to Install the RetroArch Emulator on Xbox Series X or S (4)

Now, under Dev Home, you should see RetroArch listed as “Not running” in the available apps and games. Highlight it, press the Views button on your controller (the two squares), and then select “View Details.” On this menu, change the “App type” drop-down to “Game.”

How to Install the RetroArch Emulator on Xbox Series X or S (5)

(Video) How to INSTALL RetroArch emulator on XBOX Series X|S

Back out of that menu, and then press A to launch RetroArch. When you’re asked to sign in, type your Xbox Live account details if you haven’t yet done so.

Setting Up RetroArch

After RetroArch is installed and running on your console, you can finish setting up the emulator, add some ROMs, and get to playing some games. Before you jump in, though, there are a few things you’ll probably want to do.

RetroArch’s interface is modeled on Sony’s X-media bar. This first appeared on the PS3 and, later, the PS4. There’s a horizontal and vertical menu, but you won’t see the icons representing the horizontal menu when you first launch the UWP version of RetroArch.

After the interface loads, press left and right on the d-pad to see the other options.

How to Install the RetroArch Emulator on Xbox Series X or S (6)

You can fix this by installing missing assets and switching the video driver. To do so, select “Main Menu” at the top left, scroll down to “Online Updater,” and then select “Update Assets.” While there, you can also update core info files, controller profiles, databases, overlays, and anything else you need to.

After this process is complete, a black screen will appear and the menu will reload.

Now, you’ll have to define a button combination that will allow you to access the in-game Pause menu. To do that, just return to the “Main Menu” and move horizontally to select “Settings” at the top left.

(Video) Emulation On Xbox Series X Or Series S Just Got Super Easy! No Dev Mode is Needed!

How to Install the RetroArch Emulator on Xbox Series X or S (7)

Scroll down to “Input” and select “Hotkeys.” Define the “Menu Toggle Gamepad Combo” shortcut by pressing left and right on the d-pad until you find a shortcut that works for you (“Start + Select” or “R3 + L3” are both good options).

How to Install the RetroArch Emulator on Xbox Series X or S (8)

Finally, save your settings by returning to the “Main Menu” and selecting “Configuration File.” Click “Save Current Configuration,” and then quit and reload RetroArch. You should then see a much cleaner interface with all the icons visible.

Adding ROMs and BIOS Files

ROMs should go in the “Downloads” folder on the local disk space accessible by RetroArch. To do this, open the Xbox Device Portal in a browser on your computer, and click “File Explorer.” Navigate to LocalAppData > RetroArch > LocalState > Downloads, and then use the file picker at the bottom to add any ROMs you’ve legally acquired.

Warning: Be sure to follow all relevant laws when acquiring ROMs and BIOS files. A law professorprovided us with a detailed analysis of the legalities surrounding emulating retro video games.

It should be possible to add ROMs to an external drive, but unfortunately, due to the temperamental nature of RetroArch in its UWP app form, we couldn’t get this to work during testing.

You’ll have to put any BIOS files you want to use in the LocalAppData > RetroArch > LocalState > Systemfolder.

How to Install the RetroArch Emulator on Xbox Series X or S (9)

(Video) [Xbox Series X|S] Retail Mode Retroarch Install Guide - NO DEV MODE!

RELATED: Is Downloading Retro Video Game ROMs Ever Legal?

Playing Games

To play a game, select “Load Core” in the “Main Menu.” Be sure to choosea core that matches the system type you’re playing. You might have to do some research to find out which are best for the job.

With a core selected, choose “Load Content” in “Main Menu” to locate your ROM file. Keep pressing A until your ROM file loads. In the future, you’ll be able to find your core and ROM file in the “History” menu.

How to Install the RetroArch Emulator on Xbox Series X or S (10)

To pause a game, save a gameplay state, or return to the main RetroArch menu, use the hotkey shortcut you defined earlier. From there, you can also quit RetroArch. To return to Retail mode, just select “Leave Dev Mode” from the “Quick Actions” menu in Dev Home.

The Best Backward Compatibility Yet

The Xbox Series X and S not only have the best backward compatibility of this generation, but they’re also incredibly powerful emulation machines. Since this version of RetroArch has been thrust into the spotlight, developers will hopefully pay a bit more attention to the UWP build in the future.

RetroArch is a fantastic multisystem emulator, regardless of which system you run it on. If you’re interested, there’s much more tolearn that will help you get the most out of RetroArch.

RELATED: How to Set Up RetroArch, The Ultimate All-In-One Retro Games Emulator

(Video) Guide: Retro Emulation on the Xbox Series S/X and Xbox One


  • How to Enable “FPS Boost” for a Game on Xbox Series X or S
  • Emulate Classic Consoles With Portable Retro Handhelds
  • Consider a Retro PC Build for a Fun Nostalgic Project
  • How to Customize the Look and Feel of Your Xbox Series X or S
  • Why the Xbox Series X Is a Great Buy (If You Can Find One)
  • How to Connect a Mouse and Keyboard to Your Xbox
  • Why FPGAs Are Amazing for Retro Gaming Emulation
  • Get Ready for Matter With a New Smart Home Display, Speaker, or Router


How do I download RetroArch Xbox X Series? ›

Use your Xbox One, Xbox series s or x, and Microsoft edge. In Microsoft edge go to then pick the emulator you want to install. Then just follow the prompts and it will install right to the dashboard of the Xbox. Now you will be able to use those emulators via retail mode.

Can RetroArch run on Xbox series X? ›

Thankfully, thanks to a combination of RetroArch (a program that's also let some Xbox users play PlayStation 2 games), a plug-in for it called DOSBox Pure, and a copy of Windows 98, Digital Foundry has shown that it's possible to do just that.

Is there a Xbox series X emulator? ›

A new PS2 emulator called XBSX2, meant mainly for Xbox Series X and S, is making the rounds since its release a few months ago in July 2022. This fork of another PS2 emulator from Stenzeks called PCSX2 has impressed users with its ability to upscale PS2 games with 4K native resolution at 60 FPS.

Can you install RetroArch on Xbox Series S? ›

An Xbox console: the method of installing RetroArch is identical for Xbox One/One X and Xbox Series S/X. You just need to be connected to the Internet. A USB drive: this is where all of your ROMs and BIOS files will be stored. We recommend a USB 3.0 drive.

Can you run emulators on Series S? ›

However, emulators such as RetroArch can also be installed via another series of methods. RetroArch enables users to play Dreamcast, GameCube, Wii, PS3 and PS2 games on Microsoft's console.


1. [Xbox Series X|S] Retroarch Nintendo Wii Emulation Setup Guide
(Archades Games)
2. Emulation on the Xbox Series S (PS2, GameCube, Wii, Dreamcast, and more)
(Retro Game Corps)
3. [Xbox Series X|S] Retroarch Nintendo DS Emulation Setup Guide
(Archades Games)
4. Installing RetroArch on Xbox Series X & S (UPDATE IN COMMENTS SECTION)
5. [Xbox Series X|S] Retroarch Gameboy Advance Emulation Setup Guide
(Archades Games)
6. [Xbox Series X|S] Retroarch Game Boy/Color Emulation Setup Guide
(Archades Games)

Top Articles

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Manual Maggio

Last Updated: 11/22/2022

Views: 6283

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (49 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Manual Maggio

Birthday: 1998-01-20

Address: 359 Kelvin Stream, Lake Eldonview, MT 33517-1242

Phone: +577037762465

Job: Product Hospitality Supervisor

Hobby: Gardening, Web surfing, Video gaming, Amateur radio, Flag Football, Reading, Table tennis

Introduction: My name is Manual Maggio, I am a thankful, tender, adventurous, delightful, fantastic, proud, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.