An Xbox game controller placed near a couple of Xbox 360 games on a desk.

In 2023, video game developers/ publishers haven’t stepped up their game (pun intended), with many titles continuously being released in an incomplete, unpolished state. Because of this, some of us have turned our attention to older-generation masterpieces that trigger our nostalgia for the “good ol’ days”.

For Xbox 360 owners, some of us might still have a few game discs stored inside a box, somewhere in the house. If we’re itching to revisit games like the original Gears of War, can we use our modern computer to run 10-year-old 360 game discs today?

No, we can’t play Xbox 360 game discs on a PC. The reason is simple; Xbox 360 games were developed under a different format which is only readable by the console itself.

Here’s Andre The Dragon’s video showcasing what happens when we insert an Xbox 360 game disc inside a laptop:

The same thing can be said for Xbox Series X game discs too, even though they are made for mainstream gaming hardware and specs – something that a proper gaming PC would have no issues with. 

Not all is gloomy, though, because we can play Xbox games on the computer thanks to a few different methods, such as Xbox Cloud Gaming. This makes it possible for us to enjoy Xbox games without owning their respective consoles at all, although not every Xbox game is available under it, including a few Xbox 360 titles as well. 

How to Play Xbox 360 Disc Games on PC?

As mentioned previously, we can play Xbox 360 games on the PC in a few different ways. However, none of them supports physical Xbox 360 game discs.

That being said, if we do have a couple of Xbox 360 discs collecting dust right now, there is a solution for us to play them on the computer: an emulator, Xenia.

Here’s a summary of how to play Xbox 360 games on our PC using the Xenia software:

  1. Launch the Xbox 360 console.
  2. Configure its settings to allow proper game installation onto a particular FAT32 drive.
    • Note: Formatting a device into FAT32 format will DELETE everything in it, so make sure it’s already empty beforehand.
  3. Insert the game disc inside the Xbox 360 console.
  4. Open the game’s Overview menu from the Xbox 360 home screen, and then choose “Install”.
  5. Select the external drive (FAT32 format), and let the game install onto it.
  6. Once done, remove the external device and attach it to the PC.
  7. Copy the game installed on the drive, and then paste it onto the computer (somewhere easily found, like on the Desktop screen).
  8. Afterward, launch Xenia.
  9. Change specific Xenia settings to allow it to read the copied game on the computer.
  10. Next, click on the File tab on the top, open the game’s folder, and select the game’s executable file to launch it on Xenia.
  11. If done correctly, the game will run as intended!

For a more in-depth explanation of the whole process, here’s Blaine Locklair’s video for guidance:

Do take note that we need to connect a compatible Xbox game controller to play the game as intended, seeing that many Xbox 360 games don’t support a keyboard and mouse setup during the console’s life cycle. Other than that, we’re now good to go!

Which Xbox 360 Games Can be Played on PC using Discs?

I reiterate that Xbox 360 game discs can’t be played on a PC directly. As an alternative, we will need to ‘rip’ (the same term used for dumping/ copying games onto another medium) the game to another device before running them through an emulator, like Xenia.

Nevertheless, although many Xbox 360 games are fully playable through emulation, some are still incompatible to this very day. Here are a few popular Xbox 360 games that run perfectly on Xenia:

  • Asura’s WrathBayonetta
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
  • Dante’s Inferno
  • Street Fighter 4
  • Etc.

Some games, like Halo 3, can still be played, but certain issues might pop up during gameplay, like in-game stutters or graphical glitches. To help us out, a Redditor, CaptRobau, went through the effort of compiling an Xbox 360 games list specifying the state of each game when run using Xenia.

If we own original Xbox 360 games that are completely supported by the emulator, then rest assured, we don’t have to rebuy their PC versions to enjoy them on the computer, for those that have been ported respectively.

Can I Transfer Xbox 360 Games onto a PC?

Physical game copies have their distinct advantages over digital ones, but for better long-term storage, digital games are safer and more convenient. After owning physical Xbox 360 games throughout the years, can we now transfer them to the computer for better safekeeping?

Yes, we can transfer our Xbox 360 disc games to a PC by ‘ripping’ them onto an external device and copying them to a computer afterward. This process is straightforward and is among the required steps for us to play Xbox 360 games via Xenia.

Still, Aphelion Gaming’s video here highlights it better, including ways to convert them into other formats as well, such as ISO:

Remember the specific file directory that we transfer our copied Xbox 360 games to because it can be difficult to retrace them once forgotten, something that seems to be the case for Xbox Game Pass installs. Otherwise, our Xbox 360 disc games are now securely backed up inside the PC.

Some of us might also be curious about transferring PC games to the Xbox 360 console, but thus far, there hasn’t been any conclusive method to do so just yet.

Are Xbox 360 Games Playable on PC Without an Emulator?

Even though emulators seem to be the surefire way to play Xbox 360 disc games on PC, is there any alternative for us to do so without installing one?

Yes, we can play Xbox 360 games on the computer without the use of third-party emulators. So far, the only way to do this is by subscribing to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, benefitting from its Xbox Cloud Gaming utility.

Plus, we can even play other Xbox console games – including current-gen – on the computer through the cloud gaming servers, most notably multiplayer titles like Battlefield 2042. The application even allows the use of a PlayStation controller if we don’t have an Xbox-compatible one, which is pretty nifty.

In this day and age, video games are now more accessible than ever, including those that come from the Xbox 360 era many years ago. Still, nothing stays forever, so only time will tell if we will still be playing Xbox 360 games again in the next decade or so.

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