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Apple Removes Game Boy Emulator From App Store After Brief Approval

ByHuey Yee Ong

Apr 17, 2024
Apple Removes Game Boy Emulator From App Store After Brief Approval

Apple Removes Game Boy Emulator From App Store After Brief Approval

Apple Inc. has recently removed the iGBA app, a Game Boy emulator for iPhone, from its App Store shortly after its approval, highlighting ongoing complexities in the platform’s app policies.

The removal came despite the tech giant’s announcement of a more open stance towards retro game emulators following pressure from EU regulators.

iGBA was introduced this Sunday as an ad-supported application built on the open-source project GBA4iOS, which allowed users to emulate Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color games on iOS devices. Users could download ROMs from the internet and play them through the app.

However, controversy arose when it was revealed that the app had been submitted without the consent of GBA4iOS developer Riley Testut, who is also behind the AltStore and the Nintendo emulator Delta.

Testut expressed his frustration on Threads, criticizing Apple for approving an app that utilized his code without permission and monetized it through ads and tracking. He highlighted the importance of Apple’s App Review process in protecting consumers, albeit with a tone of sarcasm due to the circumstances.

Riley Testut expresses frustration on Mastodon Social

The debate further deepened with discussions around the licensing of the GBA4iOS emulator. Originally distributed under the GNU GPL v2 license, which typically allows for copying, Testut had imposed a custom restriction preventing App Store distribution of any derivative works using the code. This added layer of complexity led to disagreements on whether such a restriction was enforceable under the terms of the GPL v2 license.

Apple eventually pulled the app, citing violations of its App Store guidelines concerning spam and copyright issues (specifically, rules 4.3 and 5.2). This decision indicates Apple’s acknowledgment of the potential misuse of the developer’s original work, despite its initial approval of the emulator under its revised policies.

The tech company has been compelled to modify its App Store rules in response to the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which mandates greater openness to competitors like AltStore. This legislation is designed to break down barriers erected by major tech platforms, and Apple’s response has included permitting not just game emulators but also streaming game stores globally.

This move is seen as a way to comply with the DMA while also potentially opening new revenue streams through in-app purchases, even though iGBA was free to use and supported by advertisements.

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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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