Game emulators arrive in App Store following rule changes

in iOS

Just over a week after Apple changed rules to allow game emulators on iPhone and iPad, the first have made their way into the App Store.

Emulators arrive on iPhone
Emulators arrive on iPhone

Apple made a change to guideline 4.7 of the App Store Review Guidelines in early April, reversing a rule that effectively banned the submission of console and classic game emulators for iOS and iPadOS.

The change, which specifically allows apps to run "software that is not embedded in the binary," with "retro game console emulator apps" included on the list of acceptable applications of the rule change.

On Saturday, AppleInsider spotted the presence of some emulator apps that made it through the App Store review process, and are downloadable from the App Store itself.

Emu64 XL is a Commodore 64 emulator designed for the iPad, but it is also able to run on other Apple hardware. The compatibility list includes iOS or iPadOS 11 or later, M1 Macs running macOS 11.0 or later, and the Apple Vision Pro.

The VICE-based emulator by Raffaele Amuso is able to load .T64 and .D64 files as if they are floppy disks, with it also offering various programs and sources written in CBM64 basic.

Another emulator aimed at more mainstream gamers is iGBA, a Gameboy Advance and Gameboy Color emulator from Mattia La Spina, with it claimed to accurately run Gameboy Color games with extensive customization options.

Again, the emulator can run on iPhones and iPads running iOS 12 or iPadOS 12, M1 Macs, and the Apple Vision Pro.

Both apps are listed as free to download and without any in-app purchases.

Under Apple's rule changes, emulators must adhere to a number of guidelines, including adding ways to filter objectionable content, follow all privacy guidelines, and to not share data or privacy permissions with other software. However, the nature of emulators makes it hard to determine how some of the rules will be enforced by Apple at all.

The concept of emulation itself is legal, but to play games legally, it is generally accepted that users must own the original ROM files for games they want to use. AppleInsider strongly recommends that potential players check out their local laws to determine their particular legal requirements.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 2
    lolliverlolliver Posts: 496member
    Has anyone found other emulators available yet? I was able to download emu64 XL but the game boy emulator is either not available in Australia or has been removed from the App Store. Hopefully a few more options start showing up soon. 
  • Reply 2 of 2
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,340member
    Well it's gone now. 

    With no mention from Apple, it's impossible to know if it was due to clone complaints from another developer or that emulators weren't allowed to begin with and this approval was a mistake by someone at Apple. 
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