Apple Reportedly Booting Thousands of Video Games From Its China App Store


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Apple is getting ready to remove thousands more video games from its App Store in China due to pressure from the Chinese government, reports the Wall Street Journal. The company had previously warned Chinese video game developers that premium gaming apps were at risk of removal from the App Store, but the Chinese government is now cracking down even more on games that lack a required license—or any app that it deems illegal.

a group of people standing in front of a building: Customers queue to get their reserved iPhone 12 mobile phones at an Apple store in Shanghai on Oct. 23, 2020.

© Photo: STR/AFP (Getty Images)
Customers queue to get their reserved iPhone 12 mobile phones at an Apple store in Shanghai on Oct. 23, 2020.

According to a memo obtained by the WSJ, developers have until Dec. 31 to provide Apple with proof of their government-issued license or else their games and other apps will be removed from the App Store. But Rich Bishop, chief executive of ChinaInApp, told the WSJ that very few developers will actually be able to get the license they need from the government to keep their games in the App Store.


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This regulatory policy, first introduced in 2016, was allegedly born from concerns over gaming addiction and offensive content, but until now many iOS developers have been able to get around the compulsory license law because of a loophole in Apple’s App Store policies—a loophole that Apple is now closing, judging by this upcoming purge. It’s unclear exactly what this loophole entailed.

But it’s not just games that Apple has been removing, and likely will continue to remove. A Hong Kong mapping app was removed from the App Store during the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests last fall after the Chinese state media said it endangered law enforcement officers. Google also removed the same app at around the same time. Plague Inc., a global pandemic-themed simulation game, was removed too. PUBG was banned in 2019. Even Tripadvisor might not be safe from Chinese censors. The travel app is one of more than 100 apps that China has told Apple to remove without citing a reason.

In 2019, China’s State Administration of Press and Publication (SAPP) unveiled its app approval guidelines, which prohibited anything that violates or threatens China’s constitution, national security, or political climate;…