Game Boy Emulator Tops iPhone App Store Chart Before Getting Yanked 1
Image: Mattia La Spina

Apple recently changed its App Store policies to allow retro gaming emulators to appear on its iOS devices, finally bringing the likes of the iPhone in line with Android handsets, which have been able to play emulators since day one.

It didn't take long for an emulator to shake things up on the App Store, either; as reported by Mac Rumours, a Game Boy emulator named iGBA by a developer named Mattia La Spina went live and shot up the charts, becoming one of the top free apps on Apple's digital storefront.

iGBA runs Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance ROMs, which are loaded by the user using the iOS Files application. The big issue? It seems that La Spina simply copied an existing emulator and slapped some ads and user tracking on it.

Riley Testut has claimed that iGBA is a copy of his open-source GBA4iOS emulator. In addition to this, Testut said his app uses the GNU GPLv2 license, and it has since been discovered that iGBA does not reference the license, which could potentially violate its terms. Testut has since moved onto Delta, which will be coming to iPhone via AltStore in Europe.

Soon after its meteoric rise up the charts, iGBA vanished.

Mac Rumours has since confirmed that Apple pulled the app for violating the company’s App Review Guidelines related to spam and copyright.

Testut has taken to social media to voice his own concerns about the app. "So apparently Apple approved a knock-off of GBA4iOS — the predecessor to Delta I made in high school — in the App Store," he said on Threads. "I did not give anyone permission to do this, yet it’s now sitting at the top of the charts (despite being filled with ads + tracking). I’ve bit my tongue a bunch in the past month…but this really frustrates me. So glad App Review exists to protect consumers from scams and rip-offs like this."

Testut has also issued The Verge with the following statement:

I’ve been working with Apple to release AltStore as an alternative app marketplace for over a month now, and I’m disappointed to see that they’ve approved a knock-off of AltStore’s flagship app Delta in that time. However, we’re still planning to launch Delta ASAP, and we’ll have more to share on that very soon.

As for La Spina, he was contacted by The Verge, and while he didn't admit to using Testut’s code, he said he "did not think the app would have so much repercussion, I am really sorry," before adding that he had reached out to Testut via email, apparently in an attempt at reconciliation.

For his part, Testut has said he isn't annoyed with La Spina:

To be clear, I’m not pissed at the developer. I’m pissed that Apple took the time to change the App Store rules to allow emulators, and then approved a knock-off of my own app.

Did you get a chance to download the use iGBA? Let us know what you think of it with a comment below.