emulator playing on twitch

Can You Stream Emulators On Twitch? Is It Legal?

Twitch is one of the famous platforms for brilliant gaming streamers! You’ll find many gaming experts, commentators, and even emulator streamers.

But wait, can you stream emulators on Twitch? And is it even legal?

Yes, you can stream emulators on Twitch! And it’s legal as long as the games you’re streaming have no copyright issues. If you’re streaming emulated games that are open to everyone, then it’s okay. 

But if you’re to stream certain games that are copyright protected, then you need the owner’s permission first to stream. Plus, Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy for playing pirated games.

Therefore, as long as you follow the guidelines, emulator streaming won’t be an issue! In this blog, you’ll learn more insights about emulator streaming on Twitch. So, binge on without skipping.

Are Streaming Emulators on Twitch 100% Legal?

Streaming emulators on Twitch is legal, but there are certain factors that you need to be aware of to ensure you don’t break certain copyright rules.

Here are a few factors that you need to look after before you can binge on stream emulators on Twitch:

The Overall Emulator Legality

Emulators are not actually illegal. But certain emulators may be considered otherwise, especially if they violate the original game console’s “property laws.” For instance, the Dolphin emulator is perfectly legal as it’s an “open source project” and doesn’t violate the property laws of Nintendo.

Read Only Memory (ROM) Source

A ROM is mainly a copy of the game’s data that your emulator can use. So, if you own a physical copy of your game, they are usually permitted to create a backup copy for personal use. 

But here’s the catch! Downloading ROMs from the internet without taking permission from the copyright owner is completely illegal. Although, there are certain exceptions:

  • The copyright owner has provided permission for the ROM to be distributed
  • If the ROM’s a fan-made translation of a certain game that never got released in your country

The Game’s Legality

It’s fine to stream emulated games on Twitch if the game’s been released under an open-source license or it’s not copyright protected. But, if this specific emulator game is still under copyright restrictions and you stream it without legal permission, legal actions can be taken.

Note: A game’s copyright status may vary by region! So to safely play and stream retro games on Twitch, know the copyright status first. Otherwise, you’re doing this entirely at your own risk.

Console List and Emulators That Are Okay to Use on Twitch

Brand Console Emulator
Nintendo Nintendo DS Desmume
Nintendo GameBoy Advanced VisualBoy Advance
Nintendo Nintendo 64 Project64
Nintendo Nintendo 3DS Citra
Nintendo Nintendo Gamecube Dolphin
Nintendo Super Nintendo SNES9x
Xbox Xbox One Xenia
Xbox Xbox 360 Xenia
Sony PlayStation 1 ePSXe
Sony PlayStation 2 PCSX2
Sony PlayStation 3 RPCS3
Sega Sega 1000 Kega Fusion
Sega Dreamcast nullDC, Reicast

As you now know that as long as you follow the factors associated with emulator streaming, it’s fine with Twitch! So, to ease your way out of trouble, here’s a list of the consoles and emulators that are perfectly fine on Twitch.

There are many more consoles you can go for. However, the consoles mentioned in this list come with Twitch emulators and are perfectly safe to use.

Twitch Emulators List

If you’re a regular streamer, you should already know that hundreds of emulators are available on the internet. But not all are safe to use, as most such emulators come with viruses. Therefore, here’s a list of some of the best emulators that many streamers have found useful:

Dolphin Emulator

The Dolphin emulator is perfect for Wii and Gamecube platforms too. It even lets you enjoy games in full HD. The emulator is compatible with all PC controllers, networked multiplayer, and turbo speed.


It’s an open-source emulator compatible with Mac, Linux, iOS, Windows, and Android. You can experience all the Gameboy games with this outstanding VisualBoyAdvance emulator.


This is an amazing open-source emulator for your PlayStation. Whether you go for the PCSX2 (for Play Station 2) or PCSX-R (for Play Station 1), both are perfectly safe and legit to use.

The Different Emulator Types

Emulators come in different types, but it mainly breaks into two categories: software and hardware emulators.

Software Emulator

Software emulators are mainly used for cheaper emulation machines and PCs. So, many programmers go for this software option instead of reverse engineering hardware emulators as it’s much simpler.

Moreover, these emulators are mainly for Android and retro devices. So, you can say these were designed for the old and classic video games on old operating systems.

That’s not all; software emulators can even be used to create virtual machines that allow users to run different software applications and operating systems simultaneously on the same physical hardware.

Here are some emulators for the recent consoles:

  • RPCS3 (PS3)
  • Xenia (Xbox 360)

Hardware Emulator

These emulator types replicate the original system hardware so that you can use the original cartridges. Many remarkable hardware emulators companies create remarkable hardware emulators.

Analogue is one of the renowned companies that create some of the best hardware emulators using Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA).

The hardware emulator types don’t end here! Optical Drive Emulators (ODE) is another hardware emulator that lets you replace CD-drive back in your console. And this is done with the help of an SD card slot, allowing you to play the backups/BIN+Cues/ISOs or any other format.

Examples of some more hardware emulator brands:

How to Stream Emulators on Twitch: A Step-By-Step Process

Streaming emulated games on Twitch can be a fun and engaging way to play games and share your gameplay with your audience. Here’re the steps you need to follow for stream emulators:

Step-1: Select the desired emulator that you want to use for Twitch streaming. Make sure Twitch supports it!

Step-2: Install and set up the emulator software (it’s better to choose the ones already mentioned), configure all the settings, and load your game ROMs.

Step-3: You’re all set now! But before going live, test your stream to ensure everything’s working correctly. Check your audio and video quality, as it’s a vital key point when it comes to effective interaction with your audience.

Experts’ Tip: As long as you’re not playing pirated games or violating any of the Twitch guidelines, you’re fine to stream emulators and build your Twitch channel!

Bottom Line

Is streaming emulators illegal on Twitch? It’s a no! However, you need to know this; Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy when you play pirated games or stream restricted content! Therefore, using an emulator for live streaming is not the issue, but the content is.

So, when you’re streaming retro games, it needs to be either open source, or you have legal permission from the copyright owner. As long as you keep this in check, you shouldn’t be facing any trouble while streaming emulators on Twitch!