Want to play PlayStation games on your Android smart phone? The only choice for now is Sony Ericsson's new Xperia Play handset, with its PlayStation Pocket app. Until this week, you could also play vintage PSOne games using the PSX4Droid emulator, but Google has now pulled it from Android Market. Spot the connection?
PSX4Droid was released for Android phones last year, so the timing of the removal implies that Sony or Sony Ericsson finally got round to sending Google a takedown notice for the app, which let users play ROMs of vintage PSOne titles.
Its developer 'ZodTTD' broke the news in a series of tweets last night. "psx4droid v2 was pulled by Google due to 'Content Policy violation'," was his first tweet. "Trying to determine what can be done." He followed up by saying, "Sony's Xperia Play must be coming soon. Google just suspended all my legal Sony PSX emulator app id's from MarketPlace."
ZodTTD then said he'd been "working like mad" on an update for the app, which would make the emulator run better on Android handsets with faster processors and GPUs. It seems PSX4Droid may pop up on other non-Google app stores for Android, although he has reservations: "Im a bit worried to goto Amazon App Store as people who own the Market version would have to buy it again to update. Whadda mess Google!"
The legal status of emulators remains a grey area, and different app store owners take different approaches. Apple doesn't allow emulators unless they are officially licensed from the original console or computer manufacturer (or whoever owns the rights nowadays), which is why there are now official Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum emulator apps for iOS.
Android Market has traditionally been more of a Wild West for emulation, as Google doesn't remove apps unless asked to by a rights holder. There are plenty of emulators still available for non-PSOne consoles and handhelds, so this is not a blanket takedown of these kinds of apps.
For now, it seems Android owners will have to turn to the Xperia Play -- whose software and games implementation we were distinctly unimpressed by -- or wait for other PlayStation-certified handsets to become available. Or, as seems more likely, find another way to get apps like PSX4Droid on to their phones, as developers like ZodTTD explore new distribution channels.