First iPhone Game Boy Emulator Killed over Copyright Violation

A screenshot of the GBA4iOS app

A screenshot of the GBA4iOS app


  • Apple has allowed emulators on the App Store
  • The first GBA emulator has already been pulled from the store
  • iGBA violated copyright terms and conditions

IOS users finally got to relish the nostalgia of playing retro games when Apple allowed emulators on the App Store.

The first emulator to join the store was iGBA, a Gameboy emulator developed by Mattia La Spina. It received massive approval from the users and quickly gained a lot of downloads.

However, with the popularity came a lot of backlash. iGBA was accused of being a knock-off of a popular emulator, GBA4iOS, developed by Riley Testut over a decade ago.

Screenshots of the Delta Gameboy Emulator app for iOS
expand image
Credit: Delta Emulator
The Original Gameboy Emulator Delta for iOS

The accusation was later confirmed when Apple pulled the app from the App Store for violating copyright infringement policies, specifically section (section 5.2) which states:

“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”.

Before removing the app, the developer took it to threads to voice his opinion. He said he was shocked to see Apple allow a copy on the App Store. The app reached the top of the charts mainly because he had been preparing to launch Delta (the rebranded Gameboy Emulator) and Altstore (an alternative app store).

After further investigation, I found that iGBA wasn't just a copy. It also allegedly collected personal data, such as your location and things to identify. For such reasons, the iGBA is no longer on the App Store.

After this issue, Apple has been on its toes and keeping strict eyes on any new emulators. However, that will become harder now since the EU’s Digital Market Act allows third-party app stores such as Altstore and side loading.

Even with the issues of iGBA being pulled, adding emulators to the App Store is good news for users worldwide. The first was a failure, but hopefully, the upcoming emulators won’t face this problem.

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