Apple Removes Tens of Thousands of Games From App Store in China as It Complies More Strictly With Local Policies

Pei Li, Reuters:

Apple removed 39,000 game apps on its China store Thursday, the biggest removal ever in a single day, as it set year-end as deadline for all game publishers to obtain a licence.


Including the 39,000 games, Apple removed more than 46,000 apps in total from its store on Thursday. Games affected by the sweep included Ubisoft title Assassin’s Creed Identity and NBA 2K20, according to research firm Qimai.

Qimai also said only 74 of the top 1,500 paid games on Apple store survived the purge.

Yuan Yang, Financial Times, reporting in July that App Store updates were frozen for games before the deadline was extended until the end of the year:

Until now, Apple has allowed Chinese games to be downloaded from the App Store while their developers wait for an official licence from Chinese regulators.


Analysts and lawyers in Beijing suggested that the Chinese government had decided to step up enforcement on Apple, the largest US company operating in China, after broader tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Apparently, getting a license for paid game titles in China is a huge pain in the ass that requires approval from government censors and having an office within the country. But if Apple wants to continue providing apps through its own App Store, it has little choice but to comply with these requirements. Of course, requiring that iOS apps come from the App Store is also a choice, but one that increasingly comes with trade-offs for the company and third-party developers. Is it still a fair compromise?