Emulators suffer first App Store casualty as Apple cans knockoff Game Boy app


That was quick: Apple just pulled one of the first retro-gaming emulators, iGBA, from the App Store. It only began allowing emulators earlier this month, and the iGBA app had only been approved for less than a week before getting yanked for violating copyright and spam policies.

Frankly, another unauthorized software related to Nintendo getting taken down is par for the course and not all that surprising. However, it is notable that iGBA’s takedown originated from something other than Nintendo’s DMCA legal hounds. Apple either removed it for its own reasons or the developer of the GBA4iOS emulator that the app is based on indirectly prompted the removal.

Shortly after iGBA appeared in the App Store, it quickly rose in the download rankings, garnering much attention from gamers excited to play their favorite Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color titles on their iPhones. It also gained the attention of GBA4iOS developer Riley Testut, who expressed his frustration in a Threads post that the knock-off seemingly flew through Apple’s review process while his more powerful (and legit) successor the “Delta” emulator has been sitting in Test Flight for over a month.

“So apparently Apple approved a knock-off of GBA4iOS – the predecessor to Delta I made in high school – in the App Store. I did not give anyone permission to do this, yet it’s now sitting at the top of the charts (despite being filled with ads + tracking),” Testut wrote. “I’ve bit my tongue a bunch in the past month…but this really frustrates me. So glad App Review exists to protect consumers from scams and rip-offs like this.”

It is unclear if his post influenced Apple’s decision to remove iGBA. MacRumors contacted Cupertino’s press relations, which only vaguely mentioned that the company removed the app for violating sections 4.3 and 5.2 of the App Review guidelines. These sections relate to spam and using intellectual property without consent, respectively. Whether Apple considers it a violation of Testut’s IP or Nintendo’s is unknown.

Apple began allowing emulators on April 5 as part of its Digital Markets Act compliance measures. Retro gamers were excited about it, but the language of Apple’s policy restricted most examples of emulators available for desktop or Android because the ROMs that it used would have to come from sources that owned the copyright. Since we know that Nintendo isn’t uploading ROMs to the internet for iGBA, that might have been all Apple needed to decide the app didn’t follow guidelines.

Image credit: Jack Warner


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