Retro games

Apple Reverses App Store Policy, Allows Retro Game Emulators

In response to mounting antitrust pressure from regulators in both the US and the European Union, tech giant Apple has announced a significant reversal of its App Store policies. Among the changes, Apple will now permit retro game emulators to be listed on the platform, marking a notable shift in its previous stance.

The decision, announced yesterday, opens up the App Store marketplace to retro game emulators, allowing them to offer downloadable games globally. This move deviates from Apple’s previous policy, which strictly prohibited apps that ran code from external sources, including game emulators. The announcement specifies that “retro game console emulator apps can offer to download games,” signalling a more permissive approach to software that is not embedded in the binary.

However, the guidelines surrounding the allowance of retro game emulators remain somewhat ambiguous. While Apple’s new stance represents a step forward for iPhone users seeking access to retro gaming content, there are limitations. According to interpretations by experts, Apple may only permit retro game emulators that are associated with companies owning the intellectual property rights to their games. This restriction could exclude games in the public domain or those allowed for distribution by creators.

Retro games
Retro games

This decision may have significant implications for iPhone users, as a vast majority of classic video games released in the US are no longer commercially available. With many games falling out of circulation, the introduction of retro game emulators could offer users a chance to experience gaming nostalgia.

The move by Apple comes amidst broader antitrust scrutiny, including a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice targeting various aspects of Apple’s business practices. Additionally, the European Union recently fined Apple nearly $2 billion for alleged anticompetitive behavior related to its music streaming service.

In response to the EU’s actions, Apple also announced revisions to its policies regarding music streaming apps on the App Store in Europe. These apps can now include a link to the developer’s website, informing users about alternative subscription options. However, Apple clarified that it would impose a commission of 27% on app sales made through developers’ web pages within seven days of a user clicking on an external link from the app. Despite these changes, Apple maintains its fee structure, arguing that the EU’s decision does not affect its policies.

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