Apple to Allow Retro Game Emulators on iOS

In a surprising move, Apple has announced a significant policy shift that will allow the development and distribution of retro game emulators on its iOS platform. This decision marks a departure from Apple’s previous stance and opens up new possibilities for gamers eager to indulge in nostalgia on their iPhones.

For years, Android users have enjoyed the flexibility of using emulators to play classic games from consoles like Nintendo, Sony, and Sega. Meanwhile, iOS users faced limitations, with the only options being jailbreaking or relying on web-based emulators with restricted functionality.

The recent update to Apple’s App Store review guidelines signals a change in this landscape. The amended guidelines explicitly permit the inclusion of retro game console emulator apps, along with other software such as HTML5 mini apps, streaming games, chatbots, and plug-ins. This move is seen as a response to pressure from regulatory bodies like the United States Department of Justice and the European Commission, which have advocated for increased competition and access to services on the iOS platform.

The decision to allow retro game emulators on iOS is a significant reversal for Apple, which has historically maintained tight control over its ecosystem. The company’s willingness to embrace emulation reflects a broader shift towards openness and inclusivity in the tech industry.

While iOS-compatible emulators are not yet available, developers are expected to seize this opportunity to start working on bringing retro gaming experiences to Apple devices. This move holds promise for gamers who have long awaited the chance to enjoy their favourite classics on iOS.

Legal Considerations Surrounding Emulators

The announcement has sparked discussion about the legality of emulators and their use. Emulators themselves are not inherently illegal; they serve as software tools that enable users to play games from specific platforms. However, the legality often hinges on how these emulators are utilised and whether they facilitate the piracy of games.

One common misconception is that emulators are primarily used for playing pirated games. While this may be the case in some instances, the legality of emulators depends on whether they support the use of legally obtained game files, known as ROMs. Obtaining ROMs through legal means, such as purchasing the original games or accessing them from authorised sources like, is essential to avoid copyright infringement.

The recent shutdown of the Switch emulator Yuzu by Nintendo underscores the risks faced by developers who enable users to pirate games. Nintendo, known for its aggressive approach to copyright protection, has taken action against developers that facilitate the unauthorised distribution of its games.

As developers prepare to bring emulators to the iOS App Store, they will need to ensure compliance with Apple’s guidelines and refrain from promoting the use of pirated ROMs. Emulators like Retroarch and Dolphin, if they make their way to iOS, are likely to emphasise the importance of obtaining ROMs legally, thereby mitigating the risk of copyright infringement.

Looking Ahead

The decision to permit retro game emulators on iOS marks a significant milestone for the gaming community and reflects a broader shift towards openness in the tech industry. As developers begin to explore this new opportunity, users can look forward to reliving classic gaming experiences on their iPhones.

However, it is crucial for both developers and users to adhere to legal and ethical standards when using emulators. Obtaining ROMs from legitimate sources and respecting copyright laws are essential practices to ensure the longevity of retro gaming on iOS.

In conclusion, Apple’s decision to embrace retro game emulators represents a positive step towards expanding access to gaming experiences on its platform. By fostering a more inclusive ecosystem, Apple is poised to cater to the diverse interests of its user base while upholding legal and ethical standards in the gaming community.

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
Founder | Head of PR At Nerd Bite, we are lucky to have Sam on our team. He is an expert in online PR, social media strategy, e-commerce, and news websites, with a wealth of knowledge that makes him a valuable asset. Sam's experience and skills have helped us deliver successful campaigns for clients and stay ahead of the competition. With his contributions, we are confident that we will continue to provide high-quality content and services to our readers and partners.

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