Monday, June 24, 2024
Monday June 24, 2024
Monday June 24, 2024

RetroArch emulator lands on iOS, offering gaming fans 38 console options



New app allows iPhone and iPad users to play games from Commodore 64, Nintendo Game Boy, PlayStation, and more

Retro gamers with iPhones have a reason to celebrate. The RetroArch emulator has arrived on iOS, offering the most extensive selection of console options yet. Available for both iPhone and iPad, RetroArch supports games from 38 different consoles, including classics like the Commodore 64, Nintendo Game Boy, and Sony PlayStation. The full list of compatible consoles is available on the app’s App Store page.

RetroArch is open-source, free to use, and ad-free. The app supports save states, official MFi controllers, cheats, game artwork, and more, making it a comprehensive emulator for a wide array of platforms. However, it only includes one built-in game, the puzzle title 2048. Users must source their games (ROMs) legally, as Apple mandates that emulator apps comply with all applicable laws.

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In recent weeks, iPhone users have seen an influx of retro gaming emulators on the iOS platform. The first emulators appeared in mid-April 2024, followed by PlayStation emulators about a month later. This trend has given retro gamers numerous options for playing their favourite old-school games on iPhones and iPads.

This shift stems from regulatory pressure on Apple to allow a broader selection of apps. In April, Apple clarified that emulators on the App Store could load ROMs from the web as long as they emulate retro console games only. Despite opposition from companies like Nintendo, Apple has moved forward, enabling apps like RetroArch to become accessible.

Previously, installing RetroArch on iOS required jailbreaking the device or using enterprise distribution methods. Now, with Apple’s approval, users need only run iOS 14.2 or later to install the app, simplifying the process significantly.

The arrival of RetroArch represents a swift change in the status quo. It remains uncertain how companies like Nintendo and Sony will react to this development. Nevertheless, it’s an exciting time for retro gamers on iOS, offering them a new way to enjoy classic games.


The release of RetroArch on iOS is a significant development for retro gaming enthusiasts and the broader tech industry. This event highlights several important aspects of the current technological, legal, and economic landscape.

From a technological perspective, the inclusion of RetroArch on iOS signifies a major shift in Apple’s app store policies. Historically, Apple has maintained strict control over app content, often restricting emulators due to concerns about copyright infringement. Allowing RetroArch, a comprehensive emulator supporting 38 consoles, suggests Apple is adopting a more flexible approach to app regulation. This move could pave the way for more diverse and innovative apps on the iOS platform.

Economically, the arrival of RetroArch has implications for the retro gaming market. The app provides gamers with easy access to a wide range of classic games, potentially boosting interest and engagement in retro gaming. This can lead to increased sales of retro games and merchandise, benefiting both developers and retailers in this niche market. Additionally, RetroArch’s ad-free, open-source nature ensures that it remains accessible to a wide audience, fostering a vibrant community of users and developers.

Legally, the inclusion of RetroArch on the App Store brings to the forefront issues related to intellectual property and digital rights. Apple’s requirement for legal sourcing of ROMs places the responsibility on users to comply with copyright laws. This stance underscores the importance of developing clear legal frameworks for digital content usage, particularly as technology continues to evolve. The ongoing dialogue between app developers, platform providers, and content creators will be crucial in shaping these frameworks.

Sociologically, the acceptance of RetroArch by Apple reflects broader societal trends toward digital nostalgia and the preservation of gaming history. Retro gaming appeals to various age groups, from those who experienced these games firsthand to younger generations discovering them for the first time. The app’s accessibility on modern devices like iPhones and iPads ensures that these classic games remain part of the cultural zeitgeist, promoting intergenerational connections through shared gaming experiences.

From a business standpoint, Apple’s decision to allow RetroArch and similar emulators could enhance its reputation as a more open and user-friendly platform. This decision aligns with regulatory pressures to provide greater app diversity and user choice. By embracing retro gaming emulators, Apple can attract a wider audience, including hardcore gamers and casual users interested in nostalgic experiences.

However, the response from major gaming companies like Nintendo and Sony remains to be seen. These companies have historically protected their intellectual property vigorously. They may seek to challenge the presence of emulators on the App Store or push for stricter enforcement of ROM usage rules. The balance between protecting intellectual property and fostering innovation will be a critical issue for the tech and gaming industries moving forward.

In conclusion, the arrival of RetroArch on iOS is a landmark event that highlights the intersection of technology, law, economics, and culture. It represents a shift towards greater flexibility in app store policies and underscores the importance of developing clear legal frameworks for digital content. As the retro gaming community continues to grow, the collaboration between developers, platform providers, and content creators will be key to navigating the evolving digital landscape.


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