Apple App Store: That’s why the Game Boy emulator iGBA was removed

Over the weekend, a Game Boy emulator called iGBA appeared in the iPhone's App Store, but Apple quickly removed the app.
Apple GBA4iOS Nintendo Gameboy Advance

Over the weekend, a Game Boy emulator called iGBA appeared in Apple’s App Store for the iPhone. But Apple quickly removed the app due to violations of the company’s app review policies regarding spam and copyright. Since then, Apple has shared more details about why it removed iGBA from the App Store, and it also clarified its policies for emulators.

iGBA was a copycat version of developer Riley Testut’s open source GBA4iOS app, with additional advertising on top. The name GBA4iOS was not explicitly mentioned. Nevertheless, Apple announced that it had removed iGBA from the App Store because it was a fake app. This would copy another developer’s work and try to pass it off as your own.

However, Apple confirmed that emulators from the App Store will be allowed to download ROMs from the Internet. The only requirement is that they can only be retro console games. Apple also said it approved iGBA’s functionality before learning it was a fake app. This suggests that Game Boy emulators are generally allowed in the App Store. However, the company has not yet released any other examples of retro gaming consoles.

It seems that iGBA was completely removed from the App Store because it ripped off the developers of GBA4iOS. Piracy concerns that any user could download any ROM from the Internet didn’t seem to matter. However, it remains to be seen exactly which consoles Apple considers retro and whether there will be further restrictions.

It also remains to be seen how Nintendo reacts to Apple releasing Game Boy emulators to the App Store on the iPhone. On its US customer support website, Nintendo states that downloading pirated copies of its games is illegal:

“Pirate copies of game files are often referred to as “ROMs”. The uploading and downloading of pirate copies of Nintendo games is illegal.”

Apple updated its app review guidelines earlier this month to allow emulators for retro gaming consoles. Apple says emulator developers are “responsible for all such software” offered in the app. This also includes compliance with “all applicable laws.”


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