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Apple purges nearly 30,000 apps from Chinese App Store

Apple has removed a large number of games and apps from the App Store in China, a research firm has determined, with almost 30,000 apps taken down in the middle of a crackdown on games that don’t have the required government licensing to allow for in-app purchases.

Apple has been warning game developers to acquire licenses from Chinese regulators if they wish to have their products in the iOS App Store for some time, with the potential for removal from the digital marketplace if the order isn’t adhered to. A new report shows the extent of the takedowns that have happened since that June warning.

According to data research firm Qimai, Apple pulled a total of 29,800 apps from the Chinese version of the App Store on Saturday, including more than 26,000 games. Reuters reports the new batch of removals follows an earlier sweep from the first week of July, which affected over 2,500 apps, including games from major companies including Supercell and Zynga.

The process to remove the games started on July 1, with apps lacking the required license being suspended from updating their apps in the App Store for consumers to use.

Apple has been relatively slow to comply with the regulations, allowing games to operate in the App Store despite regulatory demands to limit access to licensed titles. By contrast, the Google Play Store has limited access to its storefront since 2016.

The likelihood of all of the games taken down from the App Store acquiring a license from the regulator is slim. The application process is relatively difficult and expensive for non-Chinese companies to undertake, with games also needing to abide by a number of rules, ranging from avoiding potentially taboo political topics to the appropriateness of character appearances.

Before the takedown, it was thought the China App Store had around 60,000 games that required either an upfront payment or an optional in-app purchase, factors which would require the acquisition of a license. By contrast, only 43,000 licenses have been granted by the regulator in the last decade, and less than 1,600 were issued in the last year.


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