Why Apple Is Allowing Emulators

July 4, 2024 (3 weeks ago)

Apple’s Emulator Policy Shift: A Breakdown

Apple recently changed their App Store rules to begin allowing emulators, which are essentially apps that imitate game consoles. These have always been available on Android but until now could only be added to jailbroken iOS devices.

The Competition Factor

So why is Apple finally allowing emulators in 2024? Well, the first reason is competition. Apple wants iPhones to be just as capable as Android devices so users have no reason to switch. That’s why we’ve seen them add features like shortcuts, customization of a lock screen, and an app Library. These were features Android had for years, and Apple wanted to convince those users to try iPhone.

Lawsuits and Pressure

But emulators were always something Android users would mention when explaining why they never buy an iPhone. At first, Apple was okay with that since encouraging their user base to try Apple arcade was more important than providing a free gaming alternative with emulators that might attract some Android switchers. But then the lawsuits began.

With the EU winning a suit against Apple for their app store’s monopolistic business practices, the result was that Apple had to allow users to download apps outside the app store, which meant downloading emulators no longer required jailbreaking and would be just as easy as downloading any other app. So Apple was forced to compete not only with Android but with other app stores that would be offering emulators as soon as developers could make them.

Regulatory Heat

To add even more pressure, Apple was facing a lawsuit from the US government alleging that they restricted certain gaming apps from their store in order to prevent competition and protect Apple arcade. So, with mounting pressure from Android, the EU, and the US government, Apple decided relaxing their rules regarding gaming apps was in their best interest.

So they not only began allowing emulators but also cloud gaming services like GeForce now and xCloud. Although developers are nervous about creating emulators for iOS since they’ve always existed as a legal gray area, companies like Sony or Nintendo could try filing copyright lawsuits to set a precedent that discourages other developers from creating emulators.

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