iPhone ‘iGBA’ emulator removed from App Store, but we aren’t sure why


Over the weekend, the first handheld console game emulator hit the App Store, following a relaxation in App Store Review Guidelines the week prior.

Fast forward 24 hours and the app is gone, pulled from the App Store. However, we aren’t sure why. It might be that ROM-loading emulators are actually not allowed, and this one slipped through. Or, it may be that iGBA was simply a clone of the open-source project GBA4iOS, and was pushed to the store without permission or appropriate licensing.

MacRumors’ Joe Rossignol says Apple told him the app was removed on grounds of spam and copyright violations.

Unfortunately, this isn’t very clear and still leaves an open question about whether ROM emulators are permissible in the eyes of App Review or not.

A copyright violation could have been upheld because GBA4iOS creator Riley Testut complained about iGBA ripping off its code and assets. (The only significant change between iGBA and GBA4iOS was the addition of advertisements.) But it may also have been raised due to the possible piracy implications linked to ROM emulators as a category.

At this point, we simply just don’t know. Apple’s changes to the App Store rules mentioned emulators in reference to a collection of games inside one app; it does not explicitly say whether an app is allowed to include ROM import and loading functionality.

The release of iGBA was strong evidence that it was in fact allowed, but now it is rejected for unclear reasons and we are back to square one again. It would be nice if the App Review guidelines would unambiguously state Apple’s position on emulators, one way or the other.

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