More than 30,000 mobile apps were removed from Apple’s China app store over the weekend, according to Beijing-based app data firm Qimai. The vast majority — around 90% — were games that did not have a required license, domestic outlet 21st Century Business Herald reported Saturday.
Since 2016, China has required that all mobile games be submitted for review and approval with a license before their commercial release. While the country’s Android app stores have largely complied with the regulations, a loophole in the iOS app store that allowed developers to release their apps first and seek approval from regulators later resulted in years of skirted scrutiny.
Previously, Apple had warned developers and publishers in February that their iOS games would need licenses to continue operating in China, and would face removal after July 31, according to a notice seen by Bloomberg.
A domestic crackdown on unlicensed apps began in June and escalated in July, with some 2,500 apps being removed from Apple’s app store in the first week of July alone. Games from large global developers such as Supercell and Zynga were among those affected.
In a bid to protect children from harmful content and “internet addiction,” China’s regulators have adopted a stricter and slower review process, with imported games in particular facing more intense scrutiny. Since 2010, China has issued around 43,000 licenses for mobile games, but the number of approvals plummeted to just 1,570 last year due to a nine-month licensing freeze.
China is the world’s most lucrative market for mobile games, according to app research firm Sensor Tower. In 2019, Apple’s China app store made $16.4 billion in revenue, most of it from mobile games.
Editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: Guests take photos ahead of the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, June 4, 2018. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/People Visual)