Microsoft has introduced a Windows Store ban on game system emulators. Popular programs like Universal Emulator by NESBox have already started disappearing, and it’s thought that the move could have something to do with Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox Live Creators Program.
“Apps that emulate a game system are not allowed on any device family,” reads the latest revision to the Windows Store policy. That means any program that allows you to play games made for a console — like the NES, PlayStation One, or the Game Boy Advance — is no longer allowed to be distributed via the Windows Store.
Microsoft does not give a reason for the policy change after all this time. It could be that the company is simply implementing the ban to avoid complaints from the likes of Nintendo and Sony who don’t like people playing their games — even old-school classics — in emulators. Apple also rejects emulator apps from its App Store for Mac and iOS.
However, MSPowerUser suggests the ban could have something to do with the Xbox Live Creators Program, and Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to unify the Xbox Store and Windows Store with Xbox Play Anywhere titles that can be enjoyed on Xbox and PC. Having one rule for one store and a different one for the other gets in the way of that and makes things complicated.
If indeed this is the reason, it’s likely Microsoft will be planning other changes to its Windows Store policy to bring it in line with the Xbox Store.
It seems some system emulators still remain available to download from the Windows Store for now, but others have already started disappearing, so it likely won’t be long before they’re all gone. Of course, you can still obtain them from other sources, so it’s not the end of the world.