Apple opens the pearly gates for retro game emulators

Apple App Store allowing retro emulators into App heaven

Apple seems to be finally loosening the reigns on allowing retro emulators into their walled garden. On Friday April 4th, Apple posted an update to their Developer page describing what would be allowed. They have been getting pushback both in the European Union and here in the US in the form of a DOJ lawsuit, for their stance against 3rd party app stores. They have been under constant audit for their fairly restrictive stance on their App Store and what is allowed in. Surprisingly (or maybe not) they are now allowing software to be downloaded into an app that is not included in the main app binary (the “app”). So as an example, a retro publisher such as a Capcom could allow a collection of retro games similar to how they have released games like Mega Man X or the NES originals all under one main app.

4.7 Mini apps, mini games, streaming games, chatbots, plug-ins, and game emulators

Apps may offer certain software that is not embedded in the binary, specifically HTML5 mini apps and mini games, streaming games, chatbots, and plug-ins. Additionally, retro game console emulator apps can offer to download games. You are responsible for all such software offered in your app, including ensuring that such software complies with these Guidelines and all applicable laws. Software that does not comply with one or more guidelines will lead to the rejection of your app. You must also ensure that the software adheres to the additional rules that follow in 4.7.1 and 4.7.5. These additional rules are important to preserve the experience that App Store customers expect, and to help ensure user safety.

Of course they are pushing for all developers of these emulators to be in compliance with all “applicable laws” so don’t expect to see Super Mario Bros 3 in a retro emu app anytime soon from your favorite ROM site anytime soon (if there are any left).

Screenshot of the Provenance Emu App on iPhone

This is not the first time emulators have made their way onto the iPhone scene. Various emulators have snuck into the App Store from time to time like SNESMusic and others such as AltStore are available to side load if you feel brave enough. Some of these such as Provenance Emu even allow people to load up ROMs from file sites such as Dropbox and Google Drive.