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There is an iOS app that got removed from the App Store around 2012. It was a freeware game. I would like to study the game's design.

First of all, if I were to find a copy of the game IPA file Online, would that be considered piracy?

Secondly, assuming such activity is not illegal, are there any libraries of ancient app IPA files?

  • I discovered I had Eliminate Pro in my purchase history, which allowed me to download an IPA via old iTunes. If you're still interested in this, please contact me privately: Wowfunhappy•gmail+com. You should be able to make it work provided you have a Jailbroken iDevice of the correct era. – Wowfunhappy Apr 29 at 23:04
  • BTW—I know it's possible to sideload IPAs from other accounts on Jailbroken devices (without the rouge certificate method that won't work on old iOS), but I don't remember the exact process because it's been so long (which is why I haven't posted an answer). You'll have to do a bit of trial and error with me based on what I remember... – Wowfunhappy Apr 29 at 23:11
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First of all, if I were to find a copy of the IPA file online, would that be considered piracy?

It won't constitute piracy, primarily because the iOS App Store ecosystem has been designed from the ground up to curb attempts at pirating apps. Even if you manage to find the IPA of the said app, you won't be able to load it on an iOS device. Side-loading app like in Android is not generally possibly in iOS.

Secondly, assuming such activity is not illegal, are there libraries that .IPAs of ancient iOS apps?

No. There isn't any such library/website which will let you download the IPA file for desired app.


Your best bet would be search the Web for reviews/videos of the game app in action. That way you would be able to study the design at-least in a limited/indirect way.

Additionally, considering the app was discontinued around 2012 which were the days of iOS 6/iOS 7, it's highly likely that the app was developed using a now ancient iOS SDK and using older 32-bit architecture. Even if we hypothetically assume that you'll be somehow able to get hold of the IPA and load it on a device, it won't be possible to run in on a modern device (running iOS 11 or later), which is now installed on around 95% of active devices.

Source: App Store - Support - Apple Developer as on 10 April 2019.


P.S.: Quoting @Tetsujin from the comment below:

If it's that old & has been unsupported for 6 or 7 years, it might even be worth seeing if the original dev would be willing to give away the old source code. It's obviously something they're not currently making money out of. You never know, it might just happen.

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    If it's that old & has been unsupported for 6 or 7 years, it might even be worth seeing if the original dev would be willing to give away the old source code. It's obviously something they're not currently making money out of. You never know, it might just happen. – Tetsujin Apr 10 at 15:06
  • @Tetsujin In this case, it might be a complicated to get in touch with the creators. Let me give some context. The game in question is Eliminate Pro - released in 2009 by ngmoco, which was bought by DeNA Co. in 2010 and closed in 2016. DeNA is no longer involved in mobile gaming industry. It is a huge company that only speak to the press and potential investors. Maybe it would be a better idea to reach out to the people who actually developed the game? – Jan Parzydło Apr 10 at 15:23
  • I have zero knowledge about the iOS architecture. If I were to get a hold of the IPA file, wouldn't I be able to somehow emulate an iOS 6/7 device inside of Xcode and run the app there? (disregarding any application signature / certificate issues I might run into) – Jan Parzydło Apr 10 at 15:30
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    @JanParzydło No. It isn't possible to reverse engineering an iOS app bundle to load it into an iOS simulator. There isn't any iOS emulator. Your best chance would be to get hold of the source code, recreate the development environment (relevant macOS/Xcode version), build and run on the iOS simulator. Assuming you get hold of the source code, with your current latest development environment, you can "attempt" to build the app, but may run into build issues due to archaic nature of the app/architecture. – Nimesh Neema Apr 10 at 15:33
  • @Tetsujin's comment about contacting the developer is your best option. If it's not available then you're probably out of luck for that app. It's also possible that the dev took it out of the Store because the design used is not possible anymore. On a positive note, there's hundreds of games released and available on the App Store each year. I'm sure you could find a very similar game to study. – fsb Apr 10 at 15:44

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