Video game emulators pulled from Android Market

Some of the most popular apps on the Android Market have been yanked.

Google has decided to remotely remove all video game emulators from the service after increasing complaints from game developers, angry at mobile users who were illegally downloading video game files for free.

The action has resulted in a suspension of Yong Zhang’s Android developer account. Zhang was the one responsible for putting NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, and Game Boy emulators, among others, up for download. The apps were called Nesois, Snesoid, etc.

Copyright law does not prevent users from developing or downloading the actual emulation apps, but it is illegal to download ROM files for those emulators. It’s one of those murky legal areas, since it’s widely believed that almost everyone who downloads a legal emulator will download illegal ROM files for it.

It is also being speculated that Zhang violated open-source licenses, which would be grounds enough for suspension.

This move comes after Google previously got rid of all Playstation emulator apps ahead of the launch of the Xperia Play, which lets users purchase legal versions of classic Playstation games. It’s assumed that Sony had pressured Google to purge the apps.

Anyone who has already downloaded one of Zhang’s emulators is still free to use the software, so it’s possible they’ll still make their way around the underground app market.