In the Windows Phone and Windows 8 emulation scene, a developer named M.k has largely been the star of the show. Starting in January of this year, he produced no less than three awesome emulators for mobile Microsoft platforms: Snes8x (Super Nintendo), VBA8 (GameBoy Advance), and VGBC8 (GameBoy Color). M.k updated his emulators regularly, and had promised to bring MOGA Pro Controller support to the Windows Phone 8 versions in a future update.
Yesterday our hopes for a controller-fied emulation future came to an abrupt halt when all three of M.k’s emulators disappeared from the Windows Phone Store. This prompted speculation that Microsoft had finally started cracking down on emulators, a somewhat controversial type of app.
Many gamers love playing classic games via emulation, but others lump the practice in with piracy. Microsoft has historically allowed emulators to be sold on the Store, which means there is no debate as far as we’re concerned. Could Microsoft have changed its policy towards emulation apps though?
Good news, bad news
The good news is that Microsoft is not banning emulators from the Windows Phone and Windows 8 Stores. You can still purchase emulation apps from several different developers.
Now for the bad news. M.k voluntarily pulled his own apps from the Windows Phone Store. In fact, he has chosen not to renew his developer account; hence the apps had to be removed. M.k assures us that the decision is not a financial one – developer accounts aren’t all that expensive at $99.
Instead, the decision was personal in nature. For whatever reason, M.k no longer wishes to produce new apps or support his existing ones. I wish I could go into more detail, but (as his nondescript developer name implies) he’s a very private person.
M.k did explain that he still likes the Windows Phone and Windows 8 platforms and might return to developing for them someday. Just don’t expect it to be anytime soon. If you previously bought Snes8x, VBA8, or VGBC8, be careful not to delete them! Once an app gets delisted, it can no longer be redownloaded.
Don’t lose hope, retro gamers
Our platforms’ most prolific emulator developer might have walked away, but Windows Phone emulation fans can still find hope in the next generation of emulator developers. M.k himself recommends two of these developers’ upcoming projects:
Samuel Blanchard, maker of Blue Tomato (Sega Master System) and Purple Cherry (GameBoy Color) is working on his own GameBoy Advance emulator. As he explains in our interview, the new emulator is still a long way off because he doesn’t get to work on it very often. But Samuel has a reputation for quality, so it should be worth the wait.
Andre Botelho is another promising developer. He’s got a Playstation One emulator in the works for Windows Phone 8 called EmiPSX (pictured above). Just imagine playing Final Fantasy VII, Dragon Quest VII or Resident Evil on your phone! EmiPSX is currently in beta status and should officially appear on the Store later his year.
In response to fan outcry, M.k has temporarily relisted his apps and made them all free. He still plans not to renew his developer account, which will result in his emulators being permanently delisted. But now everyone has a chance to download them again - however briefly - and for free. Get them while they're hot!