How to play classic Nintendo and Sega games on Apple TV

By , Oct 30, 2015

Provenance Apple TV

I’ve been playing Super Mario World on my Apple TV, and I absolutely love it. I’m able to do this by loading an emulator called Provenance on my Apple TV. You won’t find Provenance in the App Store, but Apple has given us the ability to sideload apps ourselves, and Provenance is one such app that can be sideloaded.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to sideload Provenance, and how to start playing old Nintendo and Sega Classics on your Apple TV, including the NES, SNES, GBA, Genesis, Game Gear, and more. If you like classic games, then you simply don’t want to miss this.

How to play classic games on your Apple TV

First and foremost, watch the video above to get a grasp for how this is done.

Step 1: Connect your Apple TV to your computer via a USB Type-C cable

Step 2: Connect your Apple TV to power

Step 3: Go to Provenance’s GitHub page and copy the clone URL

Step 4: Launch Xcode → Source Control → Check Out and paste the clone URL in the Repository box and click Next

Step 5: Select the Master branch and click Next

Step 6: Click Download

Step 7: Select Provenance

Step 8: In the drop-down box select ProvenanceTV-release and select your connected Apple TV

Step 9: Once file processing is completed, click the Play button to build the app

Step 10: You may be asked to select a development login for provisioning. You can use a free Apple Developer account in order to do this.

Step 11: Once the app is built, you will see a message that says Running Provenance on Apple TV. Disconnect your Apple TV from your Mac, and connect it back to your television.

Step 12: Launch the Provenance app, and click Import Roms

Step 13: Browse to the IP address given to access the Provenance web interface on your computer. From there, you can upload Nintendo and Sega ROMs to your Apple TV

Super Mario Apple TV

Be sure to watch our video above for the step-by-step process. For more info on sideloading apps, see our official sideloading post.

Provenance works with the Siri Remote, but to be honest, the Siri Remote isn’t built for playing classic games. You really need to pair a traditional controller. We’ll be back with more coverage of the SteelSeries Nimbus Wireless Controller, and talk about how it works with Provenance.

Are you excited to have the ability to play classic games on your Apple TV? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts on the matter.

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  • Merman123

    Now we’re talkin

  • Stefano

    Jeff, I’m not trying to be the sore thumb here, but what about licensing and all that stuff. Once upon a time I owned these games but not any longer. ALSO, what gig size did you get?

    • George

      Well this isn’t legal in any sense but oh well.

      • Rowan09

        Not true. If you bought a game and your not selling it, it is actually legal.

      • Lol buying something once doesn’t mean access for life unless it’s a digital copy.

      • Rowan09

        This is a digital copy. The real issue is always making profit so you can’t sell it.

      • oh you bought a digital copy?

      • coLin

        No, he bought the vinyl lol

      • Rowan09

        As coLin said I bought a “vinyl” copy which is the SNES cartridge. So since I’m already an owner of the games I’m downloading and emulators I own, I’m not doing anything illegal. I did however purchase Mario on the Wii back in day (digital copy).

      • Manuel Molina

        If you brought the game and have it, you can download roms. If you own the system, you can have the emulator. If you brought it but don’t have the game or system, it’s illegal to have either or of what you don’t have. At the end of the day, we all are gonna do what we deem as right and/or in our best interest.

      • Rowan09

        I understand but as stated above if you own the system which I do and games which I do, it’s not illegal. Nevertheless it doesn’t mean Nintendo won’t shut down sites, etc. Its no different than owning a digital copy of a movie you bought, resale is where it’s a big no no.

      • Manuel Molina

        Yeah, exactly.

      • James (i love senpaidarkmiku)

        LOVE your icon!

      • coLin

        technically you are right but not quite. I own an app on my iOS device and now I have to buy it for my Android. I don’t get it for free. idk, someone else thinks different?

      • Manuel Molina

        I mean, I’m not the police nor am I the judge. I know if you own a game you brought for iOS and not android, you are not in any right to download it for free. That’s illegal. If you brought a game for PS2 but that same game you downloaded online for Xbox and didn’t pay for it, it’s the same concept. Either way, I don’t care because these companies make too much money and I’ll download it anyways.

      • Joe B

        The iOS and Android versions are different and have taken time to port. If you managed to get your iOS version working on android then that would be fine. That is essentially what a rom is, they’ve just moved it from the cartridge to your computer. Emulators are of course a different story.

    • Pokeh321

      He has the 64GB model

    • Jerry

      really dude? you had to be “the one”

  • Mr_Coldharbour

    Surely if it’s capable of running games like Alto’s adventure, SNES classics, I’m sure it can run classic PlayStation 1 games like Silent Hill, Resident Evil. If someone ports such emulators and ROMs. I’m sure the hardware is more than capable of running such games if not more. Nice video, Jeff.

    • Rowan09

      Provenance can run PS1 games as well.

      • Mr_Coldharbour

        Really? So there are no other emulators involved. Provenance is a multifaceted emulator that can run any ROMs from NES to PS1/2?

      • Rowan09

        Yes it runs multiple emulators not sure of the whole list

  • Okay, that’s great. I’ll definitely put this app on my ATV.

  • William Melendez

    Ok I’m sold . Picking a 64GB Apple TV tomorrow first thing in the morning. I see the potential here. Can’t wait for a jailbreak for this thing!

  • MMarquez661

    Wheres the best place to get a USB C cable?

    • Amazon online. Or Target, or the Apple store, or Best Buy. Lots of places have them. I got mine at Target.

      • Blacklight: Retribution

        Target is a bad place.

      • coLin

        please elaborate why

      • Gucciipad

        target is a better place. than best buy. all my electronics shoppings has been target. i save more money. i used to go best buy. but now i go target more. frys is number one. little further from me. number 2 is target. i hardly ever go to best buy. unless I go buy an expensive item. or i am in the area. savings wise. target saves me more money.

      • Rowan09

        Best Buy is the best because of it’s price matching program. I wouldn’t be caught dead in Best Buy until they implemented this program.

      • Gucciipad

        they price match to a degree. They won’t honor Costco, mail in rebates. And several other stores. I bought a router. It was 100 dollars on sale. They wouldn’t price match. For Costco but another store. Gave me $20 back. But target. I find things under $10. Plus my sonos was 65 % off at target don’t need a price match. Always cheaper

      • Rowan09

        No they don’t match to a degree. I’ve been there bought something that was $40 less at either Amazon, Target, etc, but I don’t believe they do Costco. Best Buy price matches not matter what if it’s a store they match against. Wholesale stores like BJ,s and Costco is a little different. In regards to Amazon if it’s being sold by Amazon themselves, they price match.

      • DSN1138

        they absolutely do price match costco. I just bought my tv from best buy and they priced match with costco.

      • Rowan09

        Oh great even better. This price matching thing they have is the best idea they came up with.

  • Greg S

    Hey Jeff & Sebastian. The new aTV just continues to impress… I just programmed the “+” and “-” buttons on the remote to adjust the volume of my amplifier, not for my TV or aTV. It was the simplest remote learning I’ve ever done. Check it out under settings/ remotes & devices/ learn remote. Could be worth a post.

    Cheers
    Greg

    • Jose De La Mora

      When importing the Roms did you have to reconnect the Apple TV to your Mac again?

      • smkmn13

        Nope!

      • MRTEE

        how do i get the games? do i need to download emulators on my mac?point me to site where i can download.thanks

    • What I’m really impressed about is that I didn’t have anything to do to map the sound buttons. I just went into Apple TV settings and selected my receiver. Nothing else to do. Frictionless.

  • Rowan09

    I hope Apple allow us to always side load apps on the Apple TV if so, it will be the king soon. I love my Fire TV but with only 5GB of usable memory I really don’t know what Amazon was thinking. I have the new one as well with the SD card but you can’t use everything from the SD card.

  • Lordrootman

    I’m returning my Apple TV 4 because it doesn’t support the Apple TV remote app I hate already sorry apple I can’t deal with on screen typing

    • N&LH

      Well, they will update current app

    • coLin

      get a wireless keyboard (I have a Logitech K811)

      • GeneMaster

        no support for 3rd party keyboard either!

      • James Harding

        This was the biggest disappointment when I switched from the aTV3. Setup was painful. I also rarely want to purchase anything because my password is painful to “swipe” in.

    • wait for the update for the remote app i suppose

    • Micke på taket

      Well tjats à major fail to do u ask me

  • If only Nintendo made actual games for mobile phones instead a stupid crappy chatting game. Would be cool to play Mario Kart on Apple TV.

  • ZeRoLiMiT

    would be awesome if we can get Kodi to work with this? any idea?

    • Dan

      If you just plan to buy this thing just for Kodi, you’re better off building a small PC. I got a barebone kit and built a 120GB ssd and 8 GB ram that runs kodi like a dream for 220$.

      • Chris Johnson

        not everyone wants to sit at a computer or make the effort to hook it up to the tv. Its the convenience of having kodi on a set top box

      • Dan

        I’m talking about a mini pc set top box, fits in your hand. I turn it on, and kodi starts up automatically. There’s no sitting at a computer, once it’s hooked up, it’s done. Imo, it’s not more trouble than an Apple TV but i is more bang for your buck.

      • ZeRoLiMiT

        nope! I have Kodi on my Amazon Fire Stick! just think it would look nice and better on the AppleTv

      • Bangali

        Could u possibly post instructions/how-to?
        Thanks..

      • Dan

        I can’t post links but what I used is this (from amazon(dot)com):
        -Gigabyte Intel Celeron N2807 Mini PC Barebones GB-BXBT-2807
        -Kingston Digital 120GB SSDNow V300 SATA 3 2.5 (7mm height) Solid State Drive (SV300S37A/120G)
        -Crucial 8GB Single DDR3 1600 MT/s (PC3-12800) CL11 SODIMM 204-Pin 1.35V/1.5V Notebook Memory CT102464BF160B

        Installing the pieces is very straight forward, just open the mini pc, insert the RAM and SSD.
        Then boot from a usb key that has either a windows image or Ubuntu (and install the OS). You then install kodi, hook up to a TV via HDMI.
        The whole set up cost me about 200$ and it works great.

      • Bangali

        Thanks very much man, appreciated!

      • William Melendez

        I like that idea. Hmmmm

    • Rak S

      Im sure it’ll happen sooner or later. Within a few weeks imo.
      Look forward to seeing that in action

    • Rowan09

      I have the Github code so I’m going to try later today and see what happens. Wish me luck.

      • ZeRoLiMiT

        awesome man! If you need help testing let me know ill be home all day

  • Adrian

    So how do you download the actual roms onto the Apple TV?

    • Rowan09

      Go to the web address it give you on the screen which is an IP address to add the roms. It’s explained in the video.

      • I’ve uploaded countless of ROMs to the web server, they all show up there, but yet the app on the TV isn’t showing anything? Tried refreshing the library, restarting the AppleTV and nothing? Running 9.0.1

  • David

    I can’t get the build to complete. I’m logged in with my dev account and get error: “No provisioning profiles found: No non–expired provisioning profiles were found.” The specifically “An App ID with Identifier ‘com.jamsoftonline.Provenance’ is not available. Please enter a different string.” Please help!

    • Chris Johnson

      same here, would be nice if they responded, sent a few tweets now.

  • Chris Johnson

    This doesn’t work. Tried 3 different iTunes accounts that signed up for developer account but it keeps getting error when you click play button “An App ID with Identifier ‘com.jamsoftonline.ProvenanceTV’ is not available. Please enter a different string.” Without a paid developer account to get certificates how are you suppose to use a free account? as it won’t sign the app. Tweeted the main downloadblog & Jeff on twitter but no response. Others posted about this on youtube page as well.

    • Patricia Anaka

      It’s probably like an other software project you download for iOS, you just have to change the “com.jamsoftonkine.Provenance” to your own string that you use for your own projects, that’s all.

      • [RECON1]

        So if we don’t have our own strong for projects, what can we change it to?

      • Patricia Anaka

        It’s been awhile but I think this is why you have to get a free Developer account. You create one of those strings to sign your apps when you make an account. It’s the same with any Xcode project you download from the internet, you always replace that string. So instead of ‘com.jamsoftonkine.Provenance’, change it to ‘com.mycompanyname.Provenance’ where mycompanyname is whatever you chose in the Developer portal.

        I just tried it it works great.

      • [RECON1]

        I did sign up for the free dev account. So you’re saying just use the name I signed up with?

      • kline1

        Well i ended up paying for a dev account cause i kept getting the same “No provisioning profiles found: No non–expired provisioning profiles were found.” So now it works but i had to pay the $99 bukz! If i knew about this yesterday it would be nice. Searching on google didnt come up with a answer either.

      • [RECON1]

        I must be doing something wrong then because still doesn’t work for me

      • stulikihihifo

        it took me a little while, but thanks to your advice I was pointed in the right direction. I didn’t want to make that mistake and pay that $99 (I was so close to doing that).

  • coLin

    Is that a bad thing?

  • kline1

    Does anybody know how to delete roms once they are in the apple tv?

    • [RECON1]

      Long press on the swipe pad on the remote

  • MMarquez661

    I am having no luck getting this to work. I keep getting “No provisioning profiles found: No non–expired provisioning profiles were found.”

    • [RECON1]

      Yeah I didn’t either. I’ve been told that you need to create a wildcard provisioning profile if you’re not going to use your own bundle ID string.

      • MMarquez661

        finally got it to work. It was defaulted to “Provenance”, so I manually selected “Provenance-TV” changed the bundle ID string to “com.myname.Provenance

      • Eric M

        Dude!! You are a ROCKSTAR!!! Thanks so much!! This blog is not about the people who run it but the community that uses it!! Thanks again!!

      • MMarquez661

        Here are the screen shots, after the last screen shot i clicked fix and it worked.

    • MMarquez661

      I finally got it to work. It was defaulted to “Provenance”, so I manually selected “Provenance-TV” changed the bundle ID string to “com.myname.Provenance

      • [RECON1]

        Weird. I tried doing that earlier and had no luck

  • Patricia Anaka

    Someone said that it emulates PS1 — but it doesn’t really, does it? I’d like to play Metal Gear Solid having just finished MGSV.

  • Oscar

    I keep getting this issue. I even tried it on a different computer. Any idea what I can do?

  • Is there an emulator available for Nintendo 64 on Apple TV 4th Gen ?

  • Mikey

    where is the best place to find Super Mario Bros Rom for Provenance, i cant seem to find one good place for download

  • fernando rivera

    Jeff i have the devp account but I am getting a erro

  • Curt Foidart

    Hi Jeff,

    This is not working as instructed. After the step where you click ‘Fix Issue” another error pops up: “An App ID with identifier ‘com.jamsoftonline.ProvenanceTV’ is not available. Please enter a different string.”

    • Really Bad Promo

      check the images people posted below

  • Edwin Rivera

    You do need a paid developers account. Buzz kill.

    • Commenter

      I’m running into the same problem. Xcode is free to download but a developer login seems to require the $99 membership.

      Is there a way around this?

      • Really Bad Promo

        it’s actually free. confusing, but just needs an apple id. when it asks for credit card, just dont give one

      • Edwin Rivera

        Ive already done that but it gives me an error when I finally go to install it.

        “An App ID with Identifier com.jamsoftonline.ProvinanceTV is not available. Please enter a different string.”

      • fernando rivera

        same here dont know why I even delete and install Xcode same thing

  • Really Bad Promo

    same, any help?

    • Really Bad Promo

      actually, installed great! i uninstalled the newest beta version of xcode and installed 7.1

  • cyberdude2007

    I got mine running, but im having lag issues. Any suggestions to resolve this issue?

  • Really tempted on getting the Apple TV. Might wait for the holidays to get one.

  • Jesse Smith

    What’s a good website for Roms?

  • Gerf

    Jeff, I’m trying to install this on my Apple TV and i’ve gotten as far as compiling but after I “fix issues” i get another error that says an Apple ID with “com.jamsoftonline.provenanceTV” is not available.?? any fixes for this?

  • Kyle Cappelli

    I’ve successfully installed provenance on my Apple TV. When I click import roms and go to the web address I can’t find any roms to import. Where can I find these roms? Thanks in advance.

    • Steven Honey

      in the inter nets…lol

  • Mike

    After updating the Apple TV to the new tvOS Version 9.0.1 the import does not work anymore. Has anyone the same problem?

  • Patrick Saucier

    Jeff is it possible to do all this with a pc or we absolutly need a mac ?

  • Eric Colby

    Having an issue with Xcode seeing my device from the initial drop down tab next to the providence button. My Apple TV doesn’t appear at all. I’ve tried with the hdmi connected/not, restarted both devices, can’t figure it out. Im using an apple usb to c followed by an amazon basics usb3.0 to connect to my macbook pro, could this 2 step cord be the issue? I’ve ordered a usb to c in a single cord on amazon now, however I’m curious if anyone else ran into this issue.

  • Angel Gonzalez

    I created a developer account but I keep getting this

  • Mathew Tucker

    I get this error when trying to click the play button to side load it and sign in to my dev account:
    An App ID with Identifier ‘com.jamsoftonline.ProvenanceTV’ is not available. Please enter a different string.

  • Hector Guajiro

    this is not working anymore

  • Spraycan_Soldier

    will not connect to the repository says it cannot be trusted????

  • Steven Honey

    Jeff, I’m having a problem getting provenance on ATV.

    Getting the following Error/Failure message:

    (FAILED to code sign “provenanceTV”) No non–expired provisioning profiles were found.
    Xcode can attempt to fix this issue. This will reset your code signing and provisioning settings to recommended values and resolve issues with signing identities and provisioning profiles.

    An App ID with Identifier ‘com.jamsoftonline.ProvenanceTV’ is not available. Please enter a different string.

    • Chris Brown

      Same error here. Would love to know if this is still possible.

  • Bigperm

    My apple tv is updated to TVos 9.2 (13y5189e), and I can’t get Provenance on it anymore? I had it on 9.1. am I screwed?

  • ALEXX C

    Warning! Installing this on AppleTV will revoke your developer account!

  • Jordan

    I am trying to side load the provenance emulator on Apple TV 4 running 9.2.1 using the Xcode 7.3 application I am getting held up in one part. It is telling me I need to register my device? I only have a free developer account and I am not sure that is possible with a free one. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Steve

    i have it loaded with roms etc, but the controls are horrible on the siri remote and does not work with the Steel Nimbus. The nimbus / mifi controller has one button working and no option ton configure controls. Disappointment big time