Apple is in the process of purging “thousands of video game apps” from the App Store, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. This comes as China cracks down on unlicensed games in the country, but the removals extend beyond the gaming category in some cases.
Over the last month, Apple has been warning Chinese developers that “a new wave of paid gaming apps are at risk of removal,” the report says. This process is one that Apple has been working through for months, with the first removals starting over the summer.
Apple has reminded developers this month that “premium games and those with in-app purchases had until Dec. 31 to submit proof of a government license.”
The issue centers around a regulation in China that requires video games to be licensed before being released. App Store developers have actually been able to skirt this requirement for years. For instance, Apple would allow games into the App Store while they were awaiting their license, and it simply wouldn’t enforce the requirement in some cases.
Today’s report from The Wall Street Journal also adds that China has also demanded that Tripadvisor and over 100 other apps be removed from the App Store, without explanation:
The app-store purge comes as China has stepped up efforts to police its internet, tightening content controls and censorship, including a demand that Tripadvisor and more than 100 other apps be removed from the Apple store in the country. The Cyberspace Administration of China called the apps illegal without spelling out the offenses Tripadvisor or the other apps, most of which are from Chinese developers, had committed. Tripadvisor declined to comment.
In a statement, an Apple spokesperson explained that the App Store is subject to local regulations:
“Apple studies these requests carefully whenever we receive them, and we contest and disagree with them often,” a company spokesman said. “Though the final decisions sometimes run contrary to our wishes, we believe that our customers are best served when we remain in the country providing them access to products that promote self-expression with world-class privacy protections.”
The report from The Wall Street Journal cites data from Sensor Tower, which shows that Apple had 272,000 games in the App Store in China last year, and that it has found at least 94,000 removals from the App Store this year. For comparison’s sake, Apple removed 25,000 games in 2019 from the China App Store.
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