What you need to know about Apple allowing game emulators in the App Store

by Joe Rossignol

Apple this month updated its app review guidelines to allow “retro gaming console emulation apps” to be posted on the App Store for iPhone and other devices. Below we will outline everything you need to know about these emulators and the options currently available.

This information is current as of April 2024, but Apple's policies may change over time.

What is allowed

Apple has told us that emulators that can load games (ROM files) are allowed on the App Store, as long as the apps only emulate “retro console games”.

Apple doesn't tell us which consoles it classifies as retro, but it is a popular emulator Delta from developer Riley Testut is now available on the App Store and can emulate games for the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), Nintendo 64 and Nintendo DS.

The App Store also has a Commodore 64 emulator called Emu64 XL.

We haven't seen any other full-featured emulators on the App Store released since the rule change, but there are likely to be more in the future More will be available. Apple recently removed an emulator called iGBA from the App Store for copying Testut code for Delta and its predecessor GBA4iOS, and the developer of the NES emulator Bimmy decided to remove the app from the App Store to avoid the risk of legal action from Nintendo.


Although a US court has ruled that emulators are legal, downloading copyrighted ROMs is usually against the law of the country. On its US customer support website, Nintendo states that downloading pirated copies of its games is illegal:

Pirated copies of game files are often referred to as “ROMs”.

Downloading and Downloading pirated copies of Nintendo games is illegal.

Nintendo recently sued the developers of the Nintendo Switch emulator Yuzu for “facilitating piracy on a colossal scale”, resulting in a reported $2.4 million settlement dollars. Nintendo has yet to comment on the availability of emulators in the App Store, but Delta and its predecessor GBA4iOS have been available on iPhone outside the App Store for over a decade without shutting down. In 2014, Nintendo issued a DMCA takedown notice for the GBA4iOS website, but emulators remained available.

For those who want to comply with the letter of the law, downloading and use are generally legal. play “home-grown” games available in the public domain.

Tags: App Store, Emulator[ 32 comments ]

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