Apr 7, 2024 4 min read

#45: Emulation turns the iPhone into a handheld

In today's overkill digest newsletter, we focus on Apple's decision to allow emulators on the App Store.

#45: Emulation turns the iPhone into a handheld

In today's overkill digest newsletter, we focus on Apple's decision to allow emulators on the App Store.

Hello, and welcome to a new edition of the overkill digest newsletter, your go-to source for everything handheld devices (and lately, emulation).

As I announced in an earlier digest, we're currently working on overkill 2.0, and we're slowly transitioning from the design part to the development of the new website. And since you are one of our most trusted readers, here is a little sneak peek of what the homepage currently looks like:

It's obviously still a work in progress, but I'm proud of the direction we're taking. With the new design, we will also move to a new publishing platform, which will allow us to experiment much more. I'm excited about the new things it'll let us do!

And before we start with today's news, I'm trying to figure out how many of our readers have an ASUS ROG Ally for a giveaway we're planning. If you do, just reply to this email.

Ok, let's get to it:

Big this week

Apple finally allows emulators in the App Store. In an unexpected turn of events, probably motivated by the legislative pressure they are facing in the EU, Apple decided to allow retro game emulators on the App Store.

Until recently, if you used an iPhone and wanted to emulate games, you had to use something like AltStore to sideload emulators. Of course, thanks to the DMA, Apple is forced to allow the release of third-party stores on the iPhone, but only in the EU. So even though companies like Epic might allow emulators in their stores, only people in the EU could benefit from this.

However, thanks to Apple's decision, everyone can play their old games on the iPhone – or at least in theory, because it is unclear how far Apple will go. I don't expect Suyu or any alternative Switch emulators to appear on the App Store since Apple, in their announcement, clarified that these emulators must comply with "all applicable laws", and we learned from the whole Yuzu story that the law is kinda murky. Because even though Suyu itself isn't unlawful, having a Switch emulator appearing on the App Store might be a bit too much for Nintendo and, therefore, too risqué for Apple (and we've seen how Nintendo can spin any story in their favour).

Still, maybe something like RetroArch or PPSSPP will soon appear (especially since there are already versions for iOS that you can sideload right now), though I also don't fully know if Apple will allow users to bring their own ROMs.

Yet, despite all these uncertainties, the iPhone is slowly turning into a potential handheld platform, thanks to the pressure from the EU and the DOJ, and real competition in the form of alternative stores.

So while I don't expect Apple to help this gaming push in any meaningful way (they lack the culture needed for this, though that's a story for a different day), it's the emulators, game streaming services, hardware like the BackBone One, and Netflix's gaming subscription, that make me hopeful.

Maybe in the future, instead of suggesting hardware like the Anbernic RG35XX or the Miyoo Mini Plus, I can tell people to get controller grips for their iPhones.

In other news

And we're done. Happy Sunday, don't forget to reply if you own a ROG Ally, and see you next week!


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