app store

Apple Is Now Allowing Retro Console Game Emulators On The App Store

But probably not in the way you want.

Apple has seemingly revealed that it will now allow retro game console emulator apps on its official App Store, thanks to an update on its App Store Review Guidelines published over the weekend.

In a section of the extensive updated rules related to the publishing of apps that offer “mini apps” or “mini games” from within their app binary, which also finally allows app makers to offer game streaming in their apps, the company directly references “retro game console emulator apps,” saying that creators of these apps are allowed to offer games to be downloaded within them, and seemingly confirming the apps themselves are OK.

“Additionally, retro game console emulator apps can offer to download games,” the guidelines state. “You are responsible for all such software offered in your app, including ensuring that such software complies with these Guidelines and all applicable laws.”

A little further down, these guidelines also include the stipulation that digital goods or services must be offered as in-app purchases, which is standard for Apple but does potentially throw water on the idea of being able to just download things like ROMs and load them up in an emulator.

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In face, taking into consideration all of the above wording, it really seems as though this is less a move to suddenly allow your favourite Game Boy or N64 emulator onto the app store and more an avenue for publishers with big catalogues of retro games to offer them as separate, downloadable purchases within another app, or even services like Antstream which offer a collection of legally-emulated games with a subscription fee.

So no, there probably won’t suddenly be an influx of emulators hitting the App Store for every console and game under the sun, and chances are if that’s what you’re after you’ve figured out the many ways it’s already possible, but it’s at least potentially good news for publishers sitting on stacks of great, old games that they could be selling to the billions of iPhone and iPad users out there.