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Apple made changes to App Store rules to allow retro game emulators

On Friday, Apple introduced significant updates to its App Store regulations, notably permitting the global distribution of emulators for retro console games, accompanied by the option for downloading associated titles. Nonetheless, the tech giant emphasized that developers bear the responsibility of ensuring compliance with copyright regulations.

While Android users have long enjoyed access to a plethora of emulators for reliving classic gaming experiences on their devices, Apple's recent policy adjustment is poised to incentivize developers in this domain to consider bringing their emulator applications to the App Store.

Under the new guidelines, emulator apps must integrate an in-app purchase mechanism for the procurement of digital items. With Apple adapting its App Store protocols in response to regulatory mandates, the emergence of such gaming applications could potentially furnish the company with an additional revenue stream.

Earlier this year, in alignment with the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA) regulations, Apple rolled out an initial set of rules, concurrently announcing its global authorization of streaming game stores. Moreover, the App Store rules were revised at that juncture to accommodate in-app purchases for mini-games and AI chatbots.

Apple's latest revision, disclosed on Friday, extends to the provision of plug-ins, encompassing HTML5-based mini-applications—potentially encompassing services featured within super apps such as WeChat.

"Apps may offer certain software that is not embedded in the binary, specifically HTML5 mini apps and mini-games, streaming games, chatbots, and plug-ins. Additionally, retro game console emulator apps can offer to download games," stated the updated clause.

In a legal backdrop marked by the U.S. Department of Justice's lawsuit against Apple, the curtailment of super apps emerged as one of the focal points among the five allegations of monopolistic practices leveled against the company.

Another notable revision to the regulations permits music streaming services like Spotify to exhibit subscription details and other digital purchases, including links to redirect users to their websites for completing transactions.

Despite Spotify's recent submission for an update within the App Store aimed at providing pricing information to EU-based users, Apple has yet to greenlight the proposed changes. In response, Spotify has expressed dissatisfaction, underscoring Apple's alleged defiance of regulatory mandates.

"Following the law is not optional, but Apple continues to defy that decision. Effective April 6th, the Commission can start noncompliance proceedings and impose daily fines. It’s time for decisive action to once and for all give consumers real choice," remarked Spotify Spokesperson Jeanne Moran in a statement to TechCrunch.

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