Apple TV: Too Many Restrictions for Game Developers

**Apple TV: Too Many Restrictions for Game Developers**

**The Shifting Landscape of Apple Developer Guidelines**

Apple’s developer guidelines have undergone notable changes recently, particularly in light of new EU regulations. These adjustments have loosened constraints on apps available outside the European Union for iPhone and iPad, paving the way for the official distribution of game emulators through the App Store. Consequently, apps like Delta, PPSSPP, and RetroArch have emerged in recent weeks, offering new avenues for retro gaming enthusiasts.

**The Case of RetroArch on Apple TV**

Among these newly available apps, RetroArch stands out as the sole emulator app present on Apple TV. However, the experience on Apple’s TV platform is marred by several restrictions that potentially jeopardize the progress and save states of users. These limitations have sparked significant discussion within the development community, initiated prominently by developer Ole Begemann.

**Developer Frustration and Industry Impact**

The restrictive environment on Apple TV has proven to be a deal-breaker for some developers. For instance, the creator of the Delta emulator cited the inability to offer a consistent save data solution as a primary reason for not launching on Apple TV. This same limitation purportedly led Microsoft to discontinue the Apple TV version of Minecraft two years post-launch, indicating a broader industry impact.

**Persistent Storage Woes**

According to Apple’s programming guidelines for Apple TV and tvOS, apps are limited to a maximum size of 4 gigabytes and can only use up to 500 kilobytes of „persistent storage.“ Persistent storage is crucial as it retains data without needing a constant power supply and remains accessible after system reboots. Alarmingly, Apple notes that even this meager 500 kilobytes can be deleted at any time by tvOS if storage space runs low and the app is not actively in use.

**The iCloud Imperative**

Apple’s proposed solution to this conundrum is leveraging iCloud. The company insists that all apps for Apple TV must be capable of storing data in iCloud and retrieving it when needed. This means that users not only need to have sufficient free space in their iCloud but also contend with potential performance drops during data access.

**A Call for Change**

Given these challenges, external developers are questioning the utility of Apple’s Set-Top-Box, especially considering it’s marketed with up to 128 GB of storage despite these stringent usage limits. There is hope in the developer community that future versions of tvOS will address and alleviate these restrictive practices.


While recent changes to Apple’s guidelines have opened new doors for app developers, the stringent constraints on Apple TV continue to stifle creativity and functionality. For Apple TV to truly become a viable platform for diverse and innovative apps, these limitations need urgent reconsideration. Apple has the opportunity to turn the tide by revising their guidelines, thereby fostering a more supportive environment for developers and gamers alike.

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