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Apple opens up its walled garden will allow retro gaming emulators on its App Store

Apple has recently made significant updates to its App Store rules, allowing developers to introduce emulators for retro console games globally, along with the option for users to download these titles. However, the company emphasized that developers must ensure compliance with copyright regulations.

While Android users already enjoy access to many emulators for playing classic games, Apple’s move is expected to incentivize developers to bring their emulators to the App Store.

Under the new rules, emulator apps must use an in-app purchase system for offering digital items. This adjustment comes as Apple adapts its App Store policies to meet regulatory requirements, potentially opening up new revenue streams for the tech giant.

Earlier this year, Apple announced updates to its App Store rules to comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). These include allowing streaming game stores globally and facilitating in-app purchases for mini-games and AI chatbots.

Additionally, Apple expanded its guidelines to include plug-ins, which may consist of HTML5-based mini-apps—a move likely aimed at accommodating services offered by super apps like WeChat.

In a statement, Apple clarified that apps can now offer software such as HTML5 mini apps, mini-games, streaming games, chatbots, and plug-ins. In contrast, retro game console emulator apps can offer downloadable games.

The update comes amidst ongoing legal scrutiny, including a lawsuit by the US Department of Justice against Apple, which raised concerns about the company’s alleged monopolistic practices, including the suppression of super apps.

Another notable change in the rules allows music streaming services like Spotify to display subscription information and links directing users to their websites for completing purchases. However, Spotify claims that Apple has yet to approve its recent update submission despite the changes in App Store rules.

A spokesperson for Spotify expressed frustration over Apple’s alleged defiance of legal requirements and emphasized the need for action to ensure consumer choice, citing potential consequences for noncompliance.

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