One of Android's gray market advantages went away this weekend as most of its most popular classic console emulators were removed in one gesture. Not long after a Sega takedown of emulators like Gearoid and Gensoid in April, Yong Zhang's developer account on Android Market has been pulled entirely and without notice. The move cuts off easy access to Ataroid, Gameboid, NESoid, N64oid, and SNESoid.
The apps have been moved to third-party store SlideME, but Zhang has been pushed to offer them for free on a temporary basis to give those who bought it from the market a way of switching stores without buying a second copy. A switch is likely to significantly hurt the apps' exposure since Android Market remains the dominant source for most apps.
Forced exits for many emulators was expected since console makers and game developers have often claimed that emulators are designed primarily to use bootleg copies of games. Even so, many titles are no longer available in any other form besides these downloads and operate in a gray area at best, even for those who have physical copies. The new lockdown may in some cases keep the games off of phones entirely.
Google has long argued for the openness of Android and takes a much looser stance to filtering its shop than Apple does the App Store. The company is still under pressure to curb piracy and other activities it has reason to believe are illegal and lately has blocked Google Movies on rooted devices after concerns from studios over possible stream ripping.