Apple Allows Retro Game Emulators on iPhones and iPads, But Excludes Old PC Systems

Apple recently changed its rules to allow retro game emulators on iPhones and iPads, letting gamers play old games without needing workarounds. However, this new policy does not include emulators for old PC systems like DOS or early Windows, and such apps are still not allowed in the App Store.

The Verge reported that Apple told developers that PC emulators break the App Store’s rules, particularly section 4.7, which has also caused issues for game streaming services. While Apple now accepts “game emulators” and “retro game console emulator apps,” it does not accept emulators for older PC software like DOS and Windows.

Apple Allows Retro Game Emulators on iPhones and iPads, But Excludes Old PC Systems
Apple Allows Retro Game Emulators on iPhones and iPads, But Excludes Old PC Systems

Developers of apps like iDOS 3 and UTM SE virtual machine had their submissions rejected, with Apple stating these apps were not “emulators of retro game consoles.” Even though these programs can play old PC games, Apple did not consider this in their decision.

Apple’s rules are unclear, as seen with the Commodore 64, which is considered a console despite being sold as a personal computer. This means developers are often surprised when their apps are rejected for rule violations they were unaware of.

Unlike Apple, Google’s Play Store for Android allows almost any emulation app as long as they don’t include copyrighted files. Apple’s change seems to have happened around the time the European Union required third-party app stores on iOS. This may allow EU users to run PC emulators on iPhones and iPads through other app stores, though it won’t be as easy as using the App Store.

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