Three gaming emulators disappear from the Windows Phone and Windows 8 Stores; here's why [Updated]

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

EmiPSX beta for Windows Phone


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!

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • Can I get a refund now?
  • Contact Microsoft, in theory, yes.
  • Microsoft's response: No Refunds! That's the biggest "No $#!1, Sherlock" answer it'll ever get.
  • That reminds me of Marcus from Borderlands! Lol. I wish we had a mobile Borderlands game...
  • Borderlands? Sure it looks nice but this game is obe boring POS
  • I managed to get a refund for the removed version of Fruit Ninja so it is possible.
  • Why cant apps be downloaded after being delisted? I have the BBC News app by Lawrence Gripper on my SD card... But some months after it was removed from the store, I had to restore my 620 due to the wifi password bug, and it automatically downloaded and installed it from the store upon restoration of the device. IIRC, i actually dowloaded the xap file or whatever for the SD card a week or so after it had been pulled??
  • I think pulling apps like this is complete BS, people payed for the app and they should be able to re-download it from the store for forever; the app should only be pulled from the store for people that have not purchased or installed(free apps) it yet.
    I would definitely ask for a refund from Microsoft, or if they refuse and you have the money for a lawyer sue them or find a lawyer who would take your case on a no win no fee bases.
    Consumers need to stand up against this practice of taking your money for an app and then pulling the app i.e. in effect stealing back the app from you.
  • He needs to refund that money towards someone elses WP app development.
    For some reason it seems odd to me. No real reason to pull, just to pull. He collected money from his work and pulled with no notice.
    I wish I could make apps collect money and pull after the money stops.
  • That's every product in the world. Lumia 900 makes no more money Nokia stops making them.
  • That's completely different.  People with existing Lumia 900's can still use them.
    If an app is delisted and you paid for it, you are out of luck to download it again in the future (ie you get a new phone).
    This is a pretty terrible part of the Windows Store that often gets overlooked.  It's happened many times now and it's pretty damn annoying when you have to re-buy an app, or one you paid for is no longer available.
  • That happens on Android or IOS too, stuff gets delisted. Im not mad at the Dev here, even though i bought VBA8, i play Emulators now only on my Android Tab, its a better experience and also not such a ridiculous battery drainer as on WP8, which is a joke, even with Purple Cherry and Blue Tomato with have probably the best interface of all EMUs on WP8.
  • Not if it is out of warranty and breaks. Same with a cartridge, if they stop making it and you lose it (delete it in this case) not the devs or stores fault.
  • Open source it maybe...?
  • I hope he does this.
  • I know that at least the Snes emulator for Surface was already based on open source material. He just adapted it to Windows RT / 8.
  • Well this sucks. Would he be willing so sell the development work he has done to another developer so that they can continue what he started. This feels like when you get blue balls.
  • Bit annoying as I just bought Snes8x on WP8 and W8...
  • It will stay on as I still have SNE8x and VBA8. Hooray and btw I thought sne8x was free
  • Not so bothered about the PC as I can download it elsewhere. I'm getting a 1020 when it's available and as soon as my Surface RT needs updating again it will be toast. It could be free but I can't remember :S
    Still really annoying either way.
  • They still work fine on my 920. Just don't reset your phone!
  • Or buy a new phone, or brake it. There should be a way to get old apps back if they are removed from the store.
  • Would've been nice if I found this out before I had to reset my Lumia 920 yesterday.
    I knew I was missing something this morning... :-/ (It didn't download from backup.)
  • That means my next phone will run Android unless WP8.1 brings sideloading.
    It's funny how different Windows and Windows Phone are.
  • Seriously?
  • So you can pirate all your software and pay developers nothing .. lame.
  • Because side-loading an app you PAID FOR and is NO LONGER AVAILABLE is piracy, right? 
  • Legally, likely yes.
  • Its no piracy if you PAID for it!!!
  • That's debatable. When you buy from an app store you are buying access to that app as long as it's available in the store. I don't think it can be assumed that you own the app for life after paying $1.
  • That depends on your jurisdiction. In mine I own(!) the software I buy. Period. Believe it or not, like it or not. It doesn't matter.
    Example how this works with Apple: There was a game published in 2009 and delisted in 2010 I think. It just happened a while ago that I wanted to play it again. I did not have a local copy of the app (which is a BIG advantage over WP actually that you can have local copies of the purchased apps in iTunes) so I needed to scroll through all apps I had ever downloaded in my iPhone. It was a pain as I'm an app junkie and had to scroll through about 2000 apps.
    But eventually I found the app that was delisted about 3 years ago and could download and play like nothing happened.
  • way to support developers
  • Way to support customers.
  • Yeah, support the developer who took your money but doesn't support the app anymore.
  • That's what I'm going to do on my focus extract the xap file and save them on my PC if I ever have hard reset it I have all the xap files.
  • You can sideload on Windows Phone too, I do it all the time for pulled or "incompatible" apps. However you need a dev account.
  • Not anymore :-)
  • I wish there was an emulated game for Super Mario Bros.
  • One buys the Apps to help the developers and then this happens. Well, lesson learned.
    I think I'll be contacting Microsoft for a refund. One thing is to stop updating the Apps. Another is to collect money and then not only not supporting but also removing them, thus preventing us, paying customers, to get the App again.
    From now on, either you're a company or a known and established developer...or I won't be buying apps from you.
  • I don't think you'll better be off with apps published by a company. They mostly stop caring if the revenue is to low. Most delisted apps I bought are from "established companies" like EA (Need for speed, Star Wars Cantina, ...).
    Micorsoft really must change its policy: if i buy an app I must be able to redownload it later even after it got delisted (or at least implement a real backup that is worth its name and saves everything including apps)
    ... not to mention the apps I bought that haven't been ported to WP8 :-(
  • Indeed, they should change their policies. It's ridiculous that just because of a whim of a developer, people get stripped out of their money. And because of cases like this, it is normal if WP users start to be more cautious when buying Apps.
    And if customers start to get cautious/suspicious, more developers will be affected. And if they are affected, WP store doesn't grow. And if it doesn't grow, WP dies and there goes Microsoft's last chance of having a mobile platform ('cause lets face it...After WM and WP7...WP8 is their last chance. Either they do it right or Apple and Android won't have to care about competition for much longer).  
  • Let's get some perspective here. Most people rarely pay for apps, and when they do it's $1 or $2. I don't think it's fair to expect lifetime support and regular updates for that kind of money.
    For any purchase under about $5 (I don't know how much these emulators costI think it's fair if you get a few months of use out of it. Compare that to other forms of entertainment or spending - an app generally costs less than a cup of coffee or 1/10th the price of watching a movie, yet you can get tons of use out of it over a long period of time. Before we had consoles and smartphones a couple of dollars would last a few minutes at an arcade.
    As long as users are so timid about paying $1 for an app (typical download -> paid rates are about 1%) amateur developers will not be able to make profit from their apps and will likely pull apps or stop supporting them.
    I develop as an amateur (i.e. I don't do it for the money, so that isn't an issue), and I think most users would be utterly amazed at what amount of support and value consumers expect for apps that cost $1 or are even free. Most consumers won't pay $1, but many will immediately spend the time to demand a bug fix for an app they downloaded for free.
  • A whole lot of dev companies are just one guy.
    The best answer is that Microsoft changes the Store to allow those who have installed a subsequently discontinued app the ability to reinstall. Certainly there is a way to flag an app as discontinued, so that users know not to expect any additional support.
  • Well, when I said "companies" I was thinking about stuff like Nokia, Gameloft, EA, etc. And indeed. When developers decide to drop their Apps, Microsoft should be able to aquire the rights to said Apps so that paying customers can keep downloading them. The developer can leave the platform at any time, but Microsoft keeps their App. So that customers aren't scammed like this.
  • I don't think that's practical, and it's unfair to the developer and Microsoft. Who is going to get the blame for an unsupported app that breaks? The developer would get emails, etc (most apps have contact details within), Microsoft would get requests for refunds and support, and the Windows Phone platform would suffer from an unreliable app store (I have an Android device and it is really frustrating how many apps just don't work at all). A developer should have the right to stop selling their app. It's up to them to determine how their customers should be treated if this happens (e.g. offering refunds, apologies, etc.) I personally don't care too much about discontinued apps because they cost almost nothing and I generally feel I get my money's worth. If a $3 app disappears after owning it for a year I will be annoyed,'s $3...for a year's worth of use. How could I complain about that? Games and software with far less quality used to cost 20 times that, and software has a long history of becoming obsolete.
  • This is what I absolutely fear in the coming age of digital media... You don't own thing... True we really did not own the code in the past, but we did own the "media". We could install what we wanted, when we wanted... Even on unsupported hardware like a past or newer os.
    Now that we have to purchase apps from a store, we stand the risk of losing access to an app or version of an app we like... Games like yearly editions are capable of being lost. Productivity apps that were better or more compatible bin a past version. Shoot, what if I don't want to purchase the latest hardware, where can I get the older version that worked? I mean dang, most of us are hanging on the dear life to the Microsoft YouTube app. Now I have to hang on to this one... Since apps on the phone are not backed up, we cannot restore them. At lease we can on the tablet/windows 8 by backing up...
    This is a problem on all digital stores, IOS, android, windows, etc... At least with steam, I save installation files to one of my servers...
    Hopefully the future will bring a better solution to this potential heartbreaking problem...
    Does anyone feel the same or different?
  • That's why I prefer physical media over digital content.
  • +1. Tangible > digital
  • There is an option to download the XAP from and install later... Unfortunately I believe it requires an SD card, so if you're fortunate enough to have a device that supports that, you at least have teh content.  not sure how long it would work though.
  • You can't install a XAP if the app is no more published on the store.
  • It does suck, with everything going towards digital and the cloud - consumer ownership of products will most likely become mere licenses. It is a shame that these were pulled.. they were top notch.
  • Totally agree. With an increasingly cloud-based storage model, there's a danger of no longer getting what you've paid for. In this particular instance, the only people losing out are the end users, which isn't fair. MS should really implement some sort of archive access to people who have previously purchased an app.
  • An archive app store would almost be a game changer! That is something that should. Be allowed.
    If you purchased the app, you can always access it and access a particular version, not just the last. Even if the app is pulled, it should still be available to those who licensed it.
    What an awesome idea.
  • Xbox basically works this way... when you buy the XBLA game, you can still download it even if the publisher pulls it or loses the rights or whatever. You just look it up in your history on the new Xbox and download.
  • Oh, but cloud, cloud, cloud. It's the best thing since bread was invented. The cloud can suck it.
  • There is one for wp7 but it has to be unlocked its called program manager that pulls the xap and can get the data ,then use move to cloud to save them on SkyDrive I have them on my focus
  • Agreed. I feel like it is a huge step backwards in some ways. A step back to dummy terminals
  • This is a shame as SNES8X was virtually flawless in my experience. I suppose this is the danger when small, independent, individual developers produce phenomenally popular apps; there's no security against changes of personal circumstances or just changes of heart. Hopefully the holes will be plugged in due course.
  • +1. It was one the best snes emulators i have ever used. Sad day.
  • I cant recall but dont dev's app's also get pulled if their subscription has expired and they did not re-new it?
  • Yes, that's correct.
  • If only someone had written an article about that...
  • It would have been nice if the developer had notified WPC so we all could have downloaded it before it was pulled.
  • isnt it possible to install from a sd card? i have a lumia 920 so I have never done this
  • It still needs to contact the marketplace when you do so but I am not sure if it lets you install XAPs from SD card if they've been pulled from the marketplace. Either way, only one WP8 worth buying has an SD card slot.
  • + ativ S
  • nope. even when you have the xap file still the installation  need to go through the Store for verification
  • I can understand him wanting to pull it if he's not developing it... but at the same time, the way that Microsoft handles these things is ridiculous.  A developer quitting work on a project shouldn't have to mean that the paying customers (or even anyone who downloaded an app, if it's free) get screwed out of something they use and enjoy.
    Anyone who paid for an app should have access to it from Microsoft forever, because this leaves a poor taste in users' mouths.  Hypothetically, say someone only paid for a single app so far, and it's this emulator.  Is that user ever going to purchase something again?  Probably not.
    And while it's nice that it still works as long as it's installed on your device... that's not a solution either.  Example: anyone who bought the Windows 8 / Windows RT version is most likely going to lose it as soon as 8.1 comes out, because the upgrade install process re-installs your apps after you upgrade.
  • What I find interesting is that games on Xbox 360, via Xbox Live, are always there for those who paid for them, even if the game is delisted. TMNT Arcade for example... no longer available. However, since I paid for it, I can delete it and re-download it as much as I'd like. I paid for it, its always there. Seems odd that applications on a mobile OS aren't similar in that way.
  • There are a few instances of delisted XBLA games that really can't be redownloaded no matter what. Happened to me with Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, I believe. But it's rare, at least.
  • Let me just give a call out to the current emulator developers to bring their emulators to the Windows 8 store.  While I miss SNES on my Surface.  I've wanted a Sega Genesis emulator and PSOne emulator even more.  Please port to Windows.  I would love you forever.
  • RT or Pro? If pro, why don't you just download those emulators yourself and install. No store needed.
  • RT
  • What PSone games do you play. I have a vita and wanted to play some old games but the graphics suck and controls too. I didn't have psone with me when I grew up
  • Metal Gear Solid, The Crash Bandicoot Series, Resident Evil and Final Fantasies.  Mostly Metal Gear and Crash.
  • Well I think windows phone will die. No new functions, no ads no innovations no new hardware and now a apple like behavior.
  • Way to read the article.  Good job.
  • That made me chuckle, a niche app got pulled out of the store and you reach that conclusion, ending referring to, probably, the most successful digital store.
    Regarding the matter itself, MS policy of tying the publishing of apps to a dev subscription is, imo, correct, otherwise many devs would publish something in our less financially interesting store and never bother to update / correct it again. It needs commitment, or just leave.
  • So if a developer doesnt renew their account all their apps get pulled and people who bought them are screwed? That's a bit shitty; If MS have made their 30% then they should keep hosting said apps invisibly so people who already bought them can re-download them if needed.
  • That's right!
  • agreed. this is the least I hope MS can do.
  • WOW, this sucks!!! Snes8x (on Windows 8) was my favorite emulator. And I didn't know about developers having to keep their account active to keep the app in the store. That puts us all consumers at the same risk. Welcome to the Digital Era.
  • I am going to install all apps I paid for....right now.
  • Pretty upsetting news as m.k had the only snes emulator on the marketplace and it run so smooth. I was anticipating the release of the MOGA controller update, here's hoping that Mr. Blanchard adds controller support to his emulators.
  • Got a Surface RT last week and I was excited about playing some SNES games on it. I procrastinated my purchase of the apps and now I'm left with no emulators and depressed. Somebody take my life away!
  • It would have been nice if the developer had notified WPC so we all could have downloaded it before it was pulled.
  • This is unfortunate and I think the dev could have at least let users know. When I paid for the app, I contributed towards future development/financial gain of the developer. The choice is ultimately his or hers at the end of the day to call it quits and move on for personal reasons, however allow me to retain the use of the app even if it is not going to be further developed. I paid for that privilege, and who knows....maybe this will encourage me and many others to start developing apps of our own.
  • Well, that's a real shame, the emulator scene was just starting to show some signs of progress, m.k. could have sent the source code to another developer to keep it on the store. Interesting how there is no mention in your article of Andre's Emigens Plus Sega Mega Drive/Genesis emulator (and yes you were tipped about it), which is now the only 16-bit emulator left.
  • He could atlest give us a warning and a couple of days to download (or pay for full version) before he did it. I actually bought vba8 but not the two others, only have trial of them. Lucky VNeslight is still there thats a great one for NES.
  • So if I already have 8.1 preview, will I lose them when it becomes the full version? This is ridiculous.
  • Sad to hear 'em go... 
  • Suddenly glad I didn't go flashing the Amber update to my 920 earlier today!
  • Well considering that the source code of VBA and Snes9x is freely available, what's stopping somebody else from simply porting it over just as M.k did?  I personally don't think we'll go too long without someone else taking up the reins.
  • Adding all the extra Metro UI is not simple. More to the point converting the ENTIRE graphics backend of open source emulators from Open GL or SDL to Windows Phone's variety of DirectX is not trivial in the slightest.
  • Exactly, why all the hate towards M.k? it was his personal decision to remove emulators. Also, this was not a crackdown by Microsoft, so any developer can make another SNES or VBA emulator and publish it, in fact, I'll look into porting Snes9x, and anybody that has a fully working C# or C++ open source Genesis emulation code, but does not want or can't port it to WP8,  please contact me, @LeninCeb.
  • Andre Botelho has already ported Genesis Plus GX to WP8, his app is called Emigens Plus
    Also, dynarec CPU cores cannot be ported to WP8 or RT because the platforms don't support self modifying code. You either need to use a purely interpretter based core (which is much slower/inefficient, hence why VBA8 makes your phone fry). Or convert the core to a threaded interpretter model (which requires in-depth knowledge of the machine's instruction set).
  • This type of thing makes me hesitant to buy any apps. Same thing happened with Carbon (a Twitter app). Dev abandoned Windows Phone. If one sticks only with free official apps like Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, Weather Channel, ESPN, etc., then no money is ever lost.
  • Odd choice. A Windows Phone developer subscription is actually just $19 right now... ( ).  Even if he's not actively developing it anymore, renewing cheaply for the benefit of those who need to re-download, or to get a few extra potential sales since the apps will still be listed would seem reasonable.  But, it's his choice I guess...
  • I don't get it. Did they get delisted because they disappear automatically if you don't renew your account or something?
  • I want (need) that EmiPSX emulator...
  • If you ask Andre nicely and send him your microsoft account email address he might give you a copy of the beta. Contact details are on his website and there's this WPC thread for feedback.
  • Microsoft killed the relationship! He probably got fed up with them.
  • That is absolutely not what happened.  I reached out to M.k directly when I saw them delisted.  He was very clear that this was a personal decision, and even praised Microsoft for allowing emulators in the store.
  • Crap. I just reset yesterday!!!
  • We need a Nintendo DS emulator
  • The Emulator cores are all open source. Just compile your own.
  • Yup, I'll just convert them from GCC/make to Visual Studio 2012, convert all the backend graphics and audio from OpenGL or SDL to DirectX, find or convert the CPU core to one that works on WP8 (i.e. not dynarec based), write the entire XAML UI, test them out on a variety of handsets and a large selection of game ROMs.
    Shouldn't take long at all...
  • Sad I never downloaded VGBC8
    :( but I still have the other two :P
  • Sad news
  • This just makes me regret moving to the Windows Phone OS in November. I have to send in my phone for replacement again (it will be my fourth 920) as the screen has started to die (blue line down the left). It just makes me not want to buy anything from the store as I don't expect it to be there a few months down the road. Free or GTFO more or less.
  • For emipsx, how could I get the beta link? Do I pm Andre?
  • I say we start a petition on to get m.k. to come back for a little longer to implement MOGA support. I've been looking at my WP store everyday hoping for updates to Snes8x, VBA8, and VGBC8. He should finish what he started and promised his constumers.
  • Aw no! M.k.'s emulators were some of my favourite gaming apps on the Windows Phone store!