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Apple rules out PC emulators for iPhone

A recent App Store guidelines change in iOS 17 has brought a number of retro gaming emulators to iPhone and iPad.

However, if you’re waiting for PC game emulators to join the fray, you’re going to be out of luck.

The news comes via a developer who said their attempt to launch the MS-DOS-based iDOS emulator was denied a place on the App Store. That’s because, Apple argued, it isn’t emulating a retro console.

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The application was made two months ago, but the developer Chaoji Li confirmed the review process has ended and the outcome was not successful

On their personal blog, they wrote (via Ars Technica): “They have decided that iDOS is not a retro game console, so the new rule is not applicable. They suggested I make changes and resubmit for review, but when I asked what changes I should make to be compliant, they had no idea, nor when I asked what a retro game console is. It’s still the same old unreasonable answer along the line of “we know it when we see it.””

The developer was trying to get this passed thanks to the revision to section 4.7 of the App Store guidelines, which took place in April.

Apple wrote: “Apps may offer certain software that is not embedded in the binary, specifically HTML5 mini apps and mini games, streaming games, chatbots, and plug-ins. Additionally, retro game console emulator apps can offer to download games.”

However, because the PC isn’t a retro “console” Apple is saying no. So, the chances of turning your iPhone into a retro Steam Deck have been extinguished for now.

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