Emulator platform RetroArch is coming to the biggest store on the PC. The RetroArch Steam release date is July 30 and it will come first to Windows and then later to Linux and MacOS. The program is the front-end software for the Libretro API, often used as the backbone for running games and game emulators. The RetroArch Steam release will be the the same as the currently available RetroArch program at first, but RetroArch’s developers plan to explore adding functionality for some of the more useful features of Valve‘s Steam platform. The devs haven’t specified which features they hope to implement, but it’s possible these could include cloud saves, automatic updates, Steam controller API support, or remote play.
According to a post on RetroArch’s Steam page, the decision to bring RetroArch to Steam was motivated by a desire to increase the software’s userbase. In the post, RetroArch’s developers said their focus this month and going forward will be making sure the program can run “originally bought content on game discs,” and they are open to discussions with game developers who want to bring their original games to Steam through RetroArch. This will just provide users with the emulators and not the ROMs so they’ll have to dump their own games if they don’t want scour for pirated copies. Tools are even in the works to allow people to play PS1 and Saturn games.
Interestingly, despite a rule in Steam’s community guidelines that specifically prohibits posting game emulator-related content to Steam, RetroArch’s post mentions game emulation several times. However, it also points out that the software is not specifically meant for that purpose. RetroArch is not the first piece of emulation-supporting software to appear on Steam, however. 3dSenVR, an NES emulator that converts games into 3D for virtual reality play, arrived on Steam in Early Access just last month. Nintendo publicly opposes emulator usage, but it is not illegal to use emulators in the U.S. as long as you are playing legally purchased games. In fact, Nintendo’s own retro consoles, the NES Classis Edition and SNES Classic Edition, wouldn’t exist without the use of emulation to run old games on new, miniature hardware.