Apple relaxes App Store rules to permit game emulators

Ryan Daws is a senior editor at TechForge Media, with a seasoned background spanning over a decade in tech journalism. His expertise lies in identifying the latest technological trends, dissecting complex topics, and weaving compelling narratives around the most cutting-edge developments. His articles and interviews with leading industry figures have gained him recognition as a key influencer by organisations such as Onalytica. Publications under his stewardship have since gained recognition from leading analyst houses like Forrester for their performance. Find him on X (@gadget_ry) or Mastodon (

Apple has loosened its App Store rules to permit the inclusion of “retro game console emulator apps” on its platform.

This move comes after years of pressure from users and legislators, particularly in Europe, where enthusiasts previously had to resort to jailbreaking their devices or using complex workarounds to access emulation apps on their iPhones.

In an update to its App Review Guidelines at the end of last week, Apple confirmed the policy change. While app developers are still “responsible for all such software offered in [their] app”, including ensuring compliance with applicable laws, “retro game console emulator apps can offer to download games.”

The decision is seen as Apple’s attempt to preempt potential user defections to competing app stores in the wake of the recent EU ruling that mandates the tech giant to permit third-party app stores in the EU. By allowing emulation apps, Apple may be able to retain users who would otherwise explore alternative app distribution channels.

This policy shift opens the door for Android emulator developers to port their apps to iDevices, expanding the emulation ecosystem on Apple’s platform. However, it remains to be seen how strictly Apple will enforce the requirement that emulators do not facilitate illegal or pirated content.

The move comes as Apple, along with tech giants Google and Meta, faces ongoing investigations by the EU under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The DMA is a key piece of legislation designed to promote fair competition in the digital market, with a particular focus on mobile app stores operated by Apple and Google.

While the new emulator policy represents a step towards greater openness, it remains to be seen how Apple will navigate the evolving regulatory landscape and address concerns over anticompetitive practices in its App Store operations.

(Photo by Lorenzo Herrera)

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