First Game Boy emulator hits iOS App Store after policy changes

igba purple logo next to apple ios blue logo

igba purple logo next to apple ios blue logo


  • Apple's policy change allows game emulators on the App Store for the first time.
  • iGBA is the first free Game Boy emulator to arrive to the App Store, offering the original GameBoy Experience.
  • The legality of downloading ROMs remains unclear, but iGBA's presence hints at a potential future shift.

For years, iPhone and iPad users have been yearning for a way to relive their childhood gaming memories. This dream became a reality after Apple finally relaxed its App Store policy regarding game emulators. The arrival of iGBA, a free iPhone and iPad Game Boy emulator, marks a turning point for mobile gaming on Apple devices.

Previously, Apple's restrictions prevented apps like iGBA from being available on the App Store. These restrictions centred around concerns about copyright infringement, as emulators allow users to play games designed for other consoles. However, with the recent policy change, Apple seems to be embracing retro gaming and the nostalgia it brings.

iGBA offers a full Game Boy experience. Users can download and play Game Boy Advance or Game Boy Color ROMs directly from the web. The app boasts features like save states, customizable virtual controllers for a more comfortable gaming experience, haptic feedback for enhanced immersion, and AirPlay compatibility for projecting gameplay onto a larger screen.

While the arrival of iGBA is exciting news, a grey area remains concerning ROMs. Apple's new guidelines regarding licensed emulated apps are unclear on whether users can download ROMs themselves. However, iGBA's presence on the App Store suggests a potential shift towards allowing ROM downloads in the future.

This new policy shift extends beyond phones, with a video showcasing Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow being played on an Apple Watch Ultra, sparking interest in Apple Watch emulator gaming. While the practicality of extensive gaming on a smartwatch is debatable, the potential for portable retro gaming on the wrist is intriguing.

With all that said, the arrival of iGBA on the App Store wasn't without controversy. The app's developer appears to have copied Riley Testut's work, the creator of the popular GBA4iOS emulator.

Testut claims he had no involvement with iGBA and expressed frustration that Apple approved a copycat app while his emulator, Delta, remains unavailable on the official App Store. Delta is the successor to GBA4iOS and was reportedly ready for launch in early March.

Despite this controversy, iGBA's arrival marks a significant shift for Apple's App Store. With more emulators likely to follow suit, iPhone and iPad users can now enjoy a wider range of retro gaming experiences, potentially including downloadable ROMs in the future.

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