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Apple Opens Doors to Retro Game Emulators in App Store Update

ByHuey Yee Ong

Apr 8, 2024
Apple Opens Doors to Retro Game Emulators in App Store Update

Apple Opens Doors to Retro Game Emulators in App Store Update

Apple has announced changes to its App Store guidelines, notably including provisions that now allow for the distribution and operation of retro game emulators globally.

This move, disclosed on a Friday, April 5th, not only aligns with the growing demand for vintage gaming experiences but also opens the door for developers to bring emulators, previously popular on Android devices, to the App Store.

However, Apple has made it clear that developers bear the responsibility to ensure that their offerings comply with copyright laws, emphasizing that the in-app purchase system must be utilized for any digital items sold through these emulators.

This adjustment comes amid broader changes to App Store policies, partly driven by regulatory developments, including compliance with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). Notably, these updates include:

  • Allowing streaming game stores globally, providing users with more access to gaming content.
  • Facilitating in-app purchases for mini-games and AI chatbots, opening up new monetization avenues for developers.
  • Broadening guidelines to include HTML5-based mini-apps and plug-ins, accommodating the functionalities of super apps like WeChat.

Legal Challenges and Market Pressures

The backdrop of these changes includes legal challenges faced by Apple, such as the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice last month, accusing the company of monopolistic practices, including the suppression of super apps. This legal action underscores the regulatory pressures on Apple and its strategies to navigate them.

One of the most significant updates in the new guidelines allows music streaming services, like Spotify, to display information about subscriptions and other digital purchases, including links directing users to their websites for completing transactions. This development follows Spotify’s recent submission of an update in the App Store intended for EU-based users, which, according to Spotify, has yet to be approved by Apple.

Spotify has expressed frustration over Apple’s handling of the situation, with a spokesperson stating, “Following the law is not optional, but Apple continues to defy that decision. Effective April 6th, the Commission can start noncompliance proceedings and impose daily fines. It’s time for decisive action to once and for all give consumers real choice.”

The inclusion of game emulators in the App Store represents a departure from Apple’s previous stance, where emulator software was not formally allowed. This change is expected to simplify the process for users to access retro games, eliminating the need for jailbreaking or sideloading, which were previously common methods for installing such software on iOS devices.

Apple’s updated guidelines now explicitly welcome retro gaming console emulator apps, allowing them to offer downloadable games, subject to compliance with the guidelines and applicable laws. This update, while primarily motivated by regulatory compliance, has been made available to developers worldwide, signaling a broader shift in Apple’s approach to its app ecosystem.

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Featured image was created with the assistance of DALL·E by ChatGPT

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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