With the advent of increased third-party support on iOS, video game emulators have rushed to the App Store to fill in the gap. The first bunch has been primarily for old Commodore 64 and GameBoy titles. However, this could soon change as we may see an emulator capable of running Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn games. The app in question is called Provenance EMU. In an email to news site iMore, project lead Joseph Mattiello said his team is working on launching their software to the App Store.

Provenance, if you’re not familiar, can run titles from a variety of consoles, including famous ones such as the Super Nintendo and more obscure machines. It’s unknown when the emulator will make its debut. Mattiello states they also need to make some quality-of-life fixes first and he wants to “investigate” the new rules. The report doesn’t explain what he’s referring to, but Mattiello may be talking about the recent changes Apple made to the App Review Guidelines. Lines were added in early April stating “developers are responsible for all the software inside their apps”. Plus, emulators need to “comply with all applicable laws”. 


Please note the use of emulators may be in violation of the game developer and publisher terms and conditions as well as applicable intellectual property laws. These will vary so please check these. Emulators should only ever be used with your own purchased game copy. TechRadar does not condone or encourage the illegal downloading of games or actions infringing copyright. 

This could put third-party developers under deep scrutiny by gaming publishers. Nintendo, for example, is not afraid to sic its lawyers after developers it claims are violating the law. Look at what happened with Yuzu

Game emulation currently exists in a legally gray area. Despite this, they have been allowed to exist, but one wrong move could bring the hammer down. So, Mattiello wants to ensure his team won’t be stepping on any landmines at launch. If all goes well, we could see a new era of mobile gaming; one where the titles aren’t just sidescrollers with sprites, but games featuring fleshed-out 3D models and environments.

What to play

We don’t recommend downloading random ROMs of games off the internet. Not only could they violate intellectual property laws, but they can also hold malware. These digital libraries aren’t the most secure. 

So if and when Provenance is released on the App Store, what can people play? At the moment, it seems users will have to try out homebrew games. They’re independently made titles that copy certain graphical styles for emulators. 

iMore recommends PSX Place, a website where hobbyists come together to share their homebrewed PlayStation games. Itch.io is another great resource. If you ever wanted to play a fan adaptation of Twin Peaks, Itch.io has one available. For GameBoy-style titles, Homebrew Hub has tons of fan-made projects. Personally, we would love to see publishers like Sony and Nintendo release their games on iOS. That way, people can enjoy the classics without skirting the law.

For those looking to upgrade, check out TechRadar's guide for the best iPhone for 2024.

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