Yesterday Google removed the PlayStation emulator PSX4Droid from the Android Market, long after the app first arrived. The developer immediately pointed the finger at Sony, linking the upcoming SE Xperia Play and the PlayStation games expected for it with Google’s decision to clip the wings on his app. Sure enough, the first five PSX titles have now hit the Android Market, available for $6.38 a pop but device-restricted to the Play.
Emulation in general is a legal can of worms, from piracy issues to that of copyrighted BIOS code, but you can usually get away with a wink and a nod as long as you don’t distribute the core app with any of those infringing files.
With older consoles and arcade hardware, there was still the argument that the emulators encouraged piracy, as few of their users would have access to the ROM dumpers needed to read the game’s code, requiring them to turn to illicit downloads. With a system like the PlayStation, though, it’s trivial for anyone with a computer and a CD-ROM drive to back up their own legally-bought games and load them onto an emulator like PSX4Droid.
Google reportedly yanked the app for “content violation”, but was it really just to drive sales to these new stand-alone PSX game apps? There’s still another emulator, FPSE, in good standing in the Market, so maybe PSX4Droid really was breaking the rules somehow. It’d be nice to hear some sort of clarification from Google, because this really has the potential to look bad for the company.