Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Why Apple pulling GBA emulator isn’t the bad news it seemed

Apple now allows gaming emulators on the App Store at the beginning of this month, but the first one to be published has quickly been pulled.

For a brief period of time the iGBA app enabled Game Boy Advance game ROMs to be enjoyed on an iPhone, but because the app fell foul of Apple’s strict App Store guidelines and was quickly removed.

Pay just £64.99 for the Logitech POP Keys mechanical wireless keyboard

Pay just £64.99 for the Logitech POP Keys mechanical wireless keyboard

The Logitech POP Keys mechanical wireless keyboard stands out from its rivals thanks to a colourful design and a row of customisable emoji shortcuts. The keyboard usually retails for £99.99, but Amazon has given it a 35% price slash, taking the price down to just £64.99.

  • Amazon UK
  • Save £35
  • Now £64.99
View Deal

The good news is there wasn’t anything about the emulator itself that Apple took umbrage with, it was pulled for a reason any other app in any other category would get the chop for.

9to5Mac heard from Apple because it was a clone of an existing open source tool called GBA4iOS, which has been around since the days of iOS 7. So it wasn’t removed for the obvious reason – that Apple got wind of the app being used to pirate games.

Apple didn’t offer any specifics initially, other than to say one of the violations was of the copyright section of the guidelines (5.2), which reads: “Make sure your app only includes content that you created or that you have a license to use. Your app may be removed if you’ve stepped over the line and used content without permission. Of course, this also means someone else’s app may be removed if they’ve “borrowed” from your work.”

The other violation related to spam, but again Apple didn’t get into specifics, until it told sites like 9to5Mac and MacRumors the true reason for the removal.

That actually bodes well for the future of emulators on the App Store because it suggests Apple isn’t being over-zealous about enforcing legal ownership of ROMs straight out of the gate.

Of course, there’s a legal grey area when it comes to using emulation apps to play retro video games from past systems. It’s considered morally OK if you have bought or own the game on the other platform. However, because so many games from past eras are unavailable or rare, it makes ownership tricky.

It seems unlikely iGBA will make it back onto the App Store, but hopefully the much-loved GBA4iOS, which emulates Game Boy, Game Boy Colour and GameBoy Advance games, will launch an official App Store app for handheld Nintendo retro goodness.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.

Trusted Reviews Logo

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the best of Trusted Reviews delivered right to your inbox.

This is a test error message with some extra words