Online / 6 & 7 February 2021


libretro: One API to Bring Them All

An overview of RetroArch, libretro, and the modularization it brings to the table

RetroArch is a free, open-source and cross-platform frontend for emulators, game engines, video games, media players and other applications. The libretro API is designed to be fast, lightweight, portable, and without dependencies. Due to the number of systems and games it can play under a single user interface, RetroArch has grown immensely over the years, and has been well adopted by the emulation scene.

Since its inception as SSNES and libsnes, libretro has grown much beyond its humble upbringings. libretro and RetroArch provide a way to connect different applications, emulators and game engines together in a single application.

libretro has a unique mission design in turning the way applications are built on its head, by enabling the modularization of software. Instead of merely thinking in terms of a standalone application, software is redesigned and re-engineered to become a pluggable module that interfaces through a common API. Standalone applications implement this API to gain access to this module. Our belief is that by following this model, applications can be more easily updated and extended, since there is a clear separation between application and core domain.

In this session, we will cover:

  • What libretro is all about and its software model
  • Interesting frontends and hardware you can use
  • libretro cores and how to implement your own
  • The ecosystem surrounding RetroArch
  • What's next for the project

Join Rob Loach, libretro maintainer, as he discusses how you can fully leverage the libretro API to bring modularized applications and systems together.


Photo of Rob Loach Rob Loach