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Over the weekend, a Game Boy emulator named iGBA appeared in the iPhone's App Store, but Apple quickly removed the app due to violations of the company's App Review Guidelines related to spam and copyright. Apple has since shared additional details about why it removed iGBA from the App Store, and it also clarified its guidelines for emulators.

iGBA-Feature-Slashed.jpg

iGBA was a copycat version of developer Riley Testut's open-source GBA4iOS app, with the addition of ads on top. While it did not explicitly name GBA4iOS, Apple told us it removed iGBA from the App Store after learning that it was a knockoff app that copied another developer's work and attempted to pass it off as its own.

Notably, Apple confirmed to us that emulators on the App Store are permitted to load ROMs downloaded from the web, so long as the app is emulating retro console games only. Apple also said it had approved iGBA's functionality, before learning that it was a knockoff app, suggesting that Game Boy emulation is permitted on the App Store, but the company has yet to share any other examples of retro game consoles.

All in all, it appears that iGBA was removed from the App Store entirely because it was a ripoff of GBA4iOS, rather than due to piracy concerns resulting from users being able to load any ROM downloaded from the web. However, exactly which consoles Apple considers to be retro, and if there will be any other restrictions, remains to be seen.

It also remains to be seen how Nintendo reacts to Apple approving Game Boy emulators for distribution through the App Store on the iPhone. On its U.S. customer support website, Nintendo says 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.
We have reached out to Nintendo for comment.

Apple updated its App Review Guidelines to permit retro game console emulators earlier this month. Apple says developers of emulators are "responsible for all such software" offered in the app, including compliance with "all applicable laws."

Article Link: Apple Further Explains Why Game Boy Emulator iGBA Was Removed From App Store
 

vertsix

macrumors 68000
Aug 12, 2015
1,662
4,598
Texas
FINALLY SOME CLARIFICATION from Apple on what specifically it allows of emulators!

Seems like emulators are now allowed and can load executables (ROMs) on iOS!!!!!

17 years later...

😭

Beautiful! Finally!

I didn't think this day would ever come. One of the biggest reasons to use Android has now been undercut.
 
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turbineseaplane

macrumors Pentium
Mar 19, 2008
15,014
32,192
So why won’t Nintendo just launch a gameboy app that plays old gameboy games they could sell on the AppStore? Seems like free money for very little effort.

They may not have the license to do that for a HUGE chunk of old titles

They could, of course, do it for their own IP, but that would undercut sales of their overpriced and under powered hardware

Yuzu made them look terrible.

The best place to play Switch games in terms of visuals and performance was Yuzu
I'll bet that pissed them off to high heaven
 

jicon

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2004
800
619
Toronto, ON
If anyone's hosting the ROMs for download, and the physical game is technically possible to get, then sure, Nintendo, go after them.

But I'm pretty miffed with Nintendo's policies on other things:
-Buy a second hand Switch that at one point was banned for online use for something someone else did? Hardware is locked from using NSO services, even though you sign in with your own credential.
-Buy a digital game, realize you had purchased the wrong thing, get a refund. Easy. Inadvertently do that a second time? No refund possible.
 
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antiprotest

macrumors 601
Apr 19, 2010
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Cases like this -- where something is approved, then not -- show the lack of competence and lack of communication in Apple's internal operations.

In this case, despite Apple's announcement about permitting emulators, even regular users immediately questioned if this one was approved in error or if Apple was going to pull it, because even regular users understood Apple's policies and other issues involved better than the one who approved it.

And something like this keeps happening. Here they made more noise than they would have wanted by approving the thing first and then pulling it. If they had rejected it from the start, there still would have been some noise, but less of a situation.
 

vertsix

macrumors 68000
Aug 12, 2015
1,662
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So why won’t Nintendo just launch a gameboy app that plays old gameboy games they could sell on the AppStore? Seems like free money for very little effort.
Because to them it makes most financial sense to lock down their vault and make it exclusive for its hardware.

Not that I agree with it, just pointing out the facts.
 
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vertsix

macrumors 68000
Aug 12, 2015
1,662
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Texas
Cases like this -- where something is approved, then not -- show the lack of competence and lack of communication in Apple's internal operations. And something like this keeps happening. Here they made more noise than they would have wanted by approving the thing first and then pulling it. If they had rejected it from the start, there would be some noise, but less of a situation.
Wholly agreed. This should've been done transparently from the beginning by not making the App Store terms so ambiguous as it pertains to emulators.
 
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klasma

macrumors 603
Jun 8, 2017
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IMO the only objectionable thing is that the app doesn’t note their use of GPL code within the app. Apple is overshooting with their reasoning, in particular since GBA4iOS isn’t otherwise available on the app store. Let’s hope it will come though, now that Apple conceded that it’s legal.
 
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BaldiMac

macrumors G3
Jan 24, 2008
8,795
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Cases like this -- where something is approved, then not -- show the lack of competence and lack of communication in Apple's internal operations. And something like this keeps happening. Here they made more noise than they would have wanted by approving the thing first and then pulling it. If they had rejected it from the start, there would be some noise, but less of a situation.
Not really. They published something. They were notified it was a unauthorized copy. They removed it.

Your premise that Apple should have known it was unauthorized before they were notified doesn't seem reasonable to me.
 

klasma

macrumors 603
Jun 8, 2017
5,968
16,762
So why won’t Nintendo just launch a gameboy app that plays old gameboy games they could sell on the AppStore? Seems like free money for very little effort.
One reason is that they don’t own all the games. While publishing GameBoy games required a license and approval from Nintendo, that doesn’t mean that they own the games. And for their own games they rather prefer to sell a subscription on the Switch.
 
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iksretep

macrumors regular
Sep 17, 2009
121
181
Los Angeles
👈 for this dinosaur emulation means accessing some of my childhood in a way. I'm glad to hear emulation apps are allowed for "retro" consoles/games ... wish there was a way to pay for ROMs of games and still contribute to someone's income.

I constantly buy ported games on Steam and GOG, but there are at times bad ports, plagued with addition of new mechanics, or so called "improvements" ...
 

sw1tcher

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
5,492
19,263
All in all, it appears that iGBA was removed from the App Store entirely because it was a ripoff of GBA4iOS...
That hasn't stopped Apple from approving and still leaving available for download a bunch of other ripoff apps





The only major difference between iGBA and the other ripoff apps is that the former is free while all the latter apps require a purchase or subscription which could disincentivize Apple from removing them.
 
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