Will Any Emulators Be Allowed on Windows Phone 7?

By  |  Monday, January 3, 2011 at 9:18 am

It looks like Microsoft is following in Apple’s footsteps by refusing to admit a Nintendo emulator to the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.

Matt Bettcher was the first developer to try and report the result. On YouTube, he demonstrated a simple port of SharpNES running on his computer’s Windows Phone 7 software emulator, and claims that his Samsung Focus can handle the NES emulator at 10 to 20 frames per second. But according to WMPowerUser, Microsoft promptly informed Bettcher that the app won’t be allowed in the Marketplace.

From what I can tell, Microsoft doesn’t have a clear policy towards video game emulators in general. Neither does Apple, but some classic video game emulators have been allowed on iOS provided the seller owns the rights to all available games and the user is restricted from running amok with executable code. Eventually, Apple even allowed a BASIC interpreter in Manomio’s Commodore 64 app. A DOS emulator for iOS was pulled after a short, glorious time in the App Store.

My guess is that Microsoft would have no problem with apps like ZX Nostalgia, C64 and Intellivision, or standalone games like the Genesis/MegaDrive classics Sega sells for iPhone, because they’re tightly controlled and don’t cause any copyright headaches, but I’m not aware of any developers who’ve tested this theory.

With a hazy promise from Microsoft to support homebrew Windows Phone 7 development in the future, there’s still hope that classic game fans may be able to side-load emulators onto the device in the future. For now, Xbox Live games face no threat from decades-old platforms.

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