Tutorial How to Turn Your Xbox Series X|S Into a Multi-Platform Emulator With RetroArch

Looking to relive the nostalgia of classic video games on your Xbox Series X|S console?



Whether you're a fan of classic gaming or just love tinkering with your Xbox Series X|S, you'll be pleased to know that it's now possible to activate Dev Mode on your console and play retro games using the amazing RetroArch software.

In this guide, we'll show you how to set up both Dev Mode and RetroArch so you can start enjoying classic games from previous console generations in no time. But before we dive in, let's talk about why you'd even want to do this in the first place.

For starters, activating Dev Mode on your Xbox Series X|S opens up a lot of possibilities—including access to an ever-growing library of emulated titles that would otherwise be unavailable on modern consoles. With RetroArch installed on your Xbox Series X|S, you can now play classic titles from systems like the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, PlayStation 1, and more. Ready to get started? Let's go!

Activate Developer Mode on Your Xbox Series X|S

Ready to get your Xbox Series X|S setup in developer mode and ready for RetroArch? Great! All you need to do is activate developer mode on your console.

To do this, you'll need to head over to the Windows store to download the Dev Mode Activation app. Once downloaded, launch the app and click on the "Enable Developer Mode" button. The app will walk you through entering and verifying your Microsoft account credentials. With that done, your console will be in developer mode and ready for RetroArch setup.

Keep in mind that entering dev mode is a one-time process; when you're done setting up RetroArch, you'll exit dev mode and return to the regular Xbox home screen. So don't forget to switch back out of developer mode when you're done configuring RetroArch!

Setup a Developer Account and Enroll Your Console

If you're ready to begin tinkering with the Xbox Series X|S in Dev Mode, you'll need a Developer Account and an enrolled console. By enrolling your console, you'll be able to access the full suite of development tools available on Xbox Series X|S. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Create a free Microsoft account that is associated with your Xbox Gamertag.
  2. Sign up for a free Xbox Developer Program account, which will give you access to the Dev Mode Activation app on your Xbox Series X|S console and the Windows 10 Xbox App provided as part of the Windows 10 SDK toolkit.
  3. Log in to your developer account from your console and download the Dev Mode Activation app (which allows developers to bypass system protections in order to modify or create apps).
  4. Once downloaded, launch the app and follow the steps indicated by it (you may be asked for permission to install an update) until completion - which should include activation of your development environment on your console, which will require that you restart your console twice and perform some other steps as indicated in order to unlock Dev Mode functionality on your Xbox Series X|S.
  5. After successfully activating Dev Mode, use RetroArch to install custom emulators and play games not available through standard channels in a secure manner (without having to worry about copyright infringement). If you don't already have RetroArch installed, you'll have download it from the store before you can start using it.

Install RetroArch on Your Xbox Series X|S

Now let's talk about how to install RetroArch onto your Xbox Series X|S. First off, you'll need to download the version of the app that's compatible with your version of Xbox. That part is easy.

Once you've done that, it's time to launch the app on your console. Before that though, you'll need to make sure you have Dev Mode activated on your console first—don't worry, we'll talk about that too.

Dev Mode Activation

Dev Mode activation is pretty simple—all you need to do is launch the Xbox Developer portal on either your console or PC and follow the instructions to create an Xbox developer account and activate the mode. Once that's done, you can then install RetroArch using this same portal.

Installing RetroArch

Once again, launching the app is fairly simple—first off, start up Dev Mode on your console and then go into Microsoft Store and search for RetroArch; once there, click on it and follow the prompt to install it onto your device.

And that's it! You're all set with installing RetroArch on your Xbox Series X|S. Now get out there and enjoy some retro gaming!

Add RetroArch to Your Console as an App

Now that you've got Dev Mode activated on your Xbox Series X|S, the next step is to add RetroArch as an app. RetroArch is an all-in-one emulator that can play the vast majority of console games from yesteryear. This includes old-school classics like Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and even NES era games.

To get started with RetroArch on your Xbox Series X|S, follow these steps:

  1. On your Windows 10 device with Dev Mode activated, open File Explorer and go to \\<YourXboxName>\dev\apps.
  2. Download the latest version of RetroArch.
  3. Extract the contents of the zip folder and copy it into \\<YourXboxName>\dev\apps from File Explorer (make sure you include all folders).
  4. Go back to your console, open the Dev Home app, and launch RetroArch from there. From there you can just launch whatever game you'd like to play!
RetroArch is a seriously cool app that's a great addition to any gaming enthusiast's library—now it's time for you to get gaming!

Configure RetroArch and Install Cores

The next step is getting RetroArch set up. As you probably already know, RetroArch is the most popular emulator out there, and it's great for playing classic games on your Xbox Series X|S. To get started, all you need to do is configure it and install the cores.

Here's an easy-to-follow guide:

  1. Open RetroArch and head to the Online Updater page; here you can download the latest version of Retroarch, with all of the newest game cores.
  2. Once you have installed the latest version of Retroarch and all of the cores, open up Retroarch's settings menu by pressing the "Start" button or controller button (depending on which type of controller you are using) then type in "RetroArch Settings" into the search bar.
  3. In this menu you can adjust a range of settings including video options, audio options, etc - all related to your experience with Retroarch on your Xbox Series X|S device.
  4. After making any changes to settings here make sure to save them by pressing "Save" in the main menu or selecting "Save Core Options" if you are only making changes to a specific core or emulator configuration.
  5. Finally, launch a game from any of your installed cores by selecting it from the main menu and pressing enter - and that's it! You're ready to start playing classic retro games on your Xbox Series X|S console!

Transfer ROMs to Your Xbox and Start Playing!

Once you're set up and all your games are ready to go, you're ready to start playing. All you need to do is transfer ROMs (game copies) from your PC or USB drive to your Xbox Series X|S and then when you open up RetroArch, the games will be available for selection. If you need help getting the ROMs onto your Xbox, here's a good tutorial.

And here's the fun part—once you have your ROMs loaded on there, launching a game is as simple as selecting it from the list and pressing A on your controller! You don't even have to leave the main menu. It's that easy! Plus, RetroArch comes with some great features like cheats codes, custom controller mapping, saving/loading of game states, and more. So it looks and feels just like a real console experience.

So now that you know how to set up Dev Mode Activation and RetroArch on the Xbox Series X|S, what are you waiting for? Get out there and get gaming!


With the Xbox Series X|S Dev Mode Activation and RetroArch Setup Guide, you have all the steps that you need in order to access the hidden world of interesting and exciting retro games. Whether you are a novice or an experienced gamer, these instructions will give you the tools you need to access the possibilities of the Xbox Series X|S.

You now have the knowledge to take advantage of the features that the Xbox Series X|S offers, as well as the ability to enjoy retro games from both the modern and classic eras. Get ready to experience gaming like never before.

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