MAME Emulator Shown Running Well on New Apple TV

Earlier this month, developer James Addyman got his emulator, Provenance, working on the Apple TV Developer Kit provided to developers via lottery, and now developer Kevin Smith has gotten the popular MAME game emulator running on the device.

In the video below, a tvOS version of the MAME emulator is demonstrated on the fourth-generation Apple TV. For those unfamiliar with MAME, it stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator. Over the years, several apps with the MAME code have snuck into the iOS App Store, letting people illicitly run old arcade games.


In the video, Smith shows several old arcade games running on the Apple TV, including Donkey Kong, Galaga, Street Fighter II, Raiden, and Metal Slug - Super Vehicle. All of the games are said to run well, though there are some lingering sound issues with a few of the titles.

The video's description includes some of the technical hurdles that had to be overcome to get the emulator working on tvOS.

I created a target for tvOS and set about getting the code to compile for arm64 (Mandatory for AppleTV), fixed a variety of compiler and linker errors. Removed code which was incompatible with tvOS frameworks and simplified code to work on tvOS. Added a basic icon compatible with tvOS. I added some tweaks to the source to allow the pause button to exit the game and supporting the resolution for the 1080p display.

While developers have been able to get emulators running on the developer versions of the fourth-generation Apple TV, which were handed out to help developers create Apple TV apps, emulators won't be available on the tvOS App Store. Apple doesn't allow emulators on iOS and will likely adopt the same policy for tvOS.

There is a possibility that emulators will be able to sneak into the tvOS App Store in the future, buried deep within legitimate apps, but as on iOS, such apps will only survive for hours before being pulled once discovered by Apple.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tags: MAME, Emulator
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

ArtOfWarfare Avatar
96 months ago
They should really let it slide for Apple TV
Yeah, it's only copyright infringement. Surely all the companies that made the games will understand and will be perfectly okay with Apple letting it slide.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rfahey79 Avatar
96 months ago
Yeah, it's only copyright infringement. Surely all the companies that made the games will understand and will be perfectly okay with Apple letting it slide.
The companies themselves should just create their own emulators with a built-in store that takes in-app purchases and make available all of their titles for a fee, $.99 - $4.99 per title would be a fair price to pay to have "legal" access to titles you enjoyed playing as a child, or whatever.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
modemthug Avatar
96 months ago
They should really let it slide for Apple TV
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tasset Avatar
96 months ago
Sure, classic games may be fun, but, to me, emulator is like a slap in awesome hardware's face.
Well when you give grandma (Apple) the keys to the Porsche (hardware), the hardware goes to waste anyway. See new AppleTV's restrictions.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
OldSchoolMacGuy Avatar
96 months ago
Building one is simple. Getting it approved and into the App Store is the challenge.

Isn't sideloading thru Xcode now possible? My experience with emulator apps that sneak onto the store is problematic as once you switch to a new device it won't be restored or not compatible with the newer OS's. But, if the developers of emulators are not trying to profit off app sales can't they make the package available to sideload?
You can create apps for your own organization. So companies can make custom apps just for their employees to use.

I suppose someone could open source the emulator and then people would compile it themselves within Xcode and run it at home. Though I imagine it would be a nightmare. People struggle even with the simple jailbreaks already. Imagine a bunch of people with little technical knowledge attempting to compile such a program. There would be a billion support threads all over the internet when they hit a compiling error.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
usarioclave Avatar
96 months ago
Some ROMs are considered abandonware, in that there's no recorded copyright holder anymore. Even for the copyrighted ROMs possession of the physical ROM may grant you the ability to "move" that to an emulator. That'd be a novel argument even if anyone bothered to sue (ie: is it the equivalent of "place shifting/time shifting?").
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Multi Display CarPlay 1

Apple Launching All-New CarPlay Experience Later This Year With These 5 Features

Sunday January 29, 2023 10:15 am PST by
In June 2022, Apple previewed the next generation of CarPlay, promising deeper integration with vehicle functions like A/C and FM radio, support for multiple displays across the dashboard, personalization options, and more. Apple says the first vehicles with support for the next-generation CarPlay experience will be announced in late 2023, with committed automakers including Acura, Audi,...
iphone 15 pro wifi 6e

Internal Apple Document From Leaker 'Unknownz21' Confirms Wi-Fi 6E Will Be Limited to iPhone 15 Pro Models

Friday January 27, 2023 10:01 am PST by
Multiple rumors have suggested that the next-generation iPhone 15 models will adopt the Wi-Fi 6E standard that Apple has already introduced in the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, and now a leaked document appears to confirm Apple's plans. Sourced from researcher and Apple leaker Unknownz21 (@URedditor), the document features diagrams of the iPhone 15's antenna architecture. D8x refers to the...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Rumored to Have These 8 Features

Friday January 27, 2023 2:11 pm PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are expected to be announced in September as usual. Already, rumors suggest the devices will have at least eight exclusive features not available on the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. An overview of the eight features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17...
top stories 28jan2023

Top Stories: iOS 16.3 Released, iPhone 15 Pro Rumors, macOS Tips and Tricks, and More

Saturday January 28, 2023 6:00 am PST by
Following last week's hardware announcements, this week saw the actual release of several of the new products as well as operating system updates bringing new features and bug fixes across Apple's platforms. This week also saw some fresh rumors about the iPhone 15 lineup and Apple's upcoming AR/VR headset, while we shared some tips to help you get the most of your macOS experience, so read...
Foldable iPhone 2023 Feature Blue

Kuo: Apple to Release Foldable iPad With Carbon Fiber Kickstand in 2024

Monday January 30, 2023 12:55 am PST by
Apple will launch a foldable iPad with a carbon fiber kickstand sometime next year, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a series of tweets, Kuo said he expects an "all-new design foldable iPad" to be the next big product launch in the iPad lineup, with no other major iPad releases in the next nine to 12 months. The analyst said he was "positive" that the foldable device would arrive in...
Hero0013

Best Apple Deals of the Week: 2021 MacBook Pro Gets Massive $500 Markdowns as Samsung Discounts TVs and Memory Accessories

Friday January 27, 2023 11:07 am PST by
As we near the end of January, this week we saw a collection of deals on Apple's iPad Pro, iMac, and the 2021 MacBook Pro. Additionally, we're tracking new sales on TVs and memory accessories from Samsung. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. Samsung...