Edit: Or is this just another case of my sarcasm meter being broken? I honestly have trouble when it comes to your many, many emulation posts.
..that's alright, I have trouble understanding myself from time to time. Everyone does.
Emulation has largely killed the proper porting of "classics" to modern hardware.
Emulation is the proper method of porting classics to modern hardware. Hardware of the 70's and 80's is very different than that of a modern console or PC. And you either need emulation or a rewrite/remake to experience those games.
Emulation started as a handy/free/illegal way for the common man to get a taste of many games at once, and is now about the only way to experience them.
Emulation is the only way the vast majority will be able to experience the arcade classics unless one re-creates an exact 80's arcade or spends loads of money and time traveling. The ability to recreate a classic arcade in all its faded glory can only be done by someone that was there and experienced it. The modern millenial generation is oblivious to the details of an 80's arcade and confuses modern "retro" with genuine "classic". There is the option of getting official arcade classic "packs" for modern consoles, and that solves the legal issue. They're not that expensive.
It's also taken over what's left of our arcades with its sub-standard experiences.
That's ok. The genuine 80's arcades died out before the turn of the century. Of the 16 (and counting) modern-day "retro" arcades I've visited in the past 3 years.. Each and every single one of them came up short of a genuine experience. There was something wrong in every one of them. Wrong music, wrong atmosphere, wrong colors, different lighting, in-operative games, cost, card-readers, no big-hair customers, no one was dressed 80's style. Modern day arcades emulate classic arcades at best. Modern day arcades are "retro", not "classic", not "vintage".
Worse, there's a whole generation that actually believes these emulated games play exactly as they did. And why wouldn't they believe it?--this garbage now comes officially licensed by the original manufacturer and is sold by the biggest gaming companies in the world. You'd hope somebody involved would have a standard or two, but I have come to suspect that as often as not, those involved have never played the real deal.
Well the material is coming from a millenial generation that wasn't around to experience the genuine article. What can you expect? But given the right homebuilt setup with the right configuration, emulation will get you "there". And with style, reliability, and convenience.
Having high standards is something more suited to vintage hobbyists, not gaming studios and corporations which are focused solely on numbers and profits. Just look at the amount of shitware and skinner games out there today.
People that enjoyed the arcade scene as it was being created in the 70's and 80's are not likely to be working in a corporate position that controls and dictates what gets made or how it gets made. We're off doing bigger and better things. So it's left to someone else that likely has no direct experience with the original arcades as they were.
What emulation does still provide is a 'close enough' for the average person with almost no effort at all. However its never really billed as an imperfect solution, and that's the heart of my problem with it.
It is very natural to overlook or downplay the disadvantages of something someone really likes.
Emulation is close enough and good enough, and gets better with time. There is no perfect solution outside of building a time machine and collecting the original arcade buildings or the original consoles and CRTs and bringing them forward to today. That's something that's just understood and common sense. Nothing is 100% perfect.
It's true that out of the box PC-based emulation needs a lot of setup and adjustments. You need to know basic computing skills like file management and location, and how to edit configuration files and all their umpteen billion options. To make matters worse, each emulator is different. And you have to have a good conceptual understanding of graphics card scaling and how it interacts with a PC's native resolution and the emulated game's resolution. You need to conceptually understand layers of software. You need to know how controllers work in Windows. And the same thing applies to sound effects. That's just the basics. There is a lot of effort if you want the final 5% so to speak.
It's like being a pilot. You need to understand aerodynamics and how your plane behaves in its medium throughout the flight envelope. And all the other details that go into making a cross-country commercial flight successful. But the pilot does not need to know the mathematics behind how the aircraft was designed. Leave that to the engineers and programmers. He also doesn't need to know the baggage logistics in the terminal or scheduling of the baggage handlers, just that they're doing their job and that X amount of cargo is on-board.
Console "classic packs" and all these hobbyist hardware projects are really great things. They ooze convenience and reliability and practicality. I'd rather buy a Zimba 3000 and a StarForce PI and a dedicated emulation PC than to even think about going back in time or hunting down modern arcade cabinets to play the classics. Been there, done that. Lost it all years ago.