As the world turns the page into 2021, Apple has removed a huge number of apps from the iOS App Store in China. In all, the company removed 46,000 apps from its Chinese storefront, the vast majority of which were games. The apps that were removed come from publishers who didn’t provide Apple with a license to sell in-app purchases in their games or apps, with Apple implementing a December 31st deadline to provide those licenses earlier in the year.
According to Reuters, 39,000 of the 46,000 removed apps were games, which makes sense since these apps were removed in a crackdown on apps selling in-app purchases without a license from Chinese regulators. Reuters cites Qimai research which says that some big names were included in the games removed from the Chinese App Store, including Assassin’s Creed Identity and NBA 2K20.
In fact, the removal wiped out nearly the entire top 1,500 paid games on the iOS App Store, with only 74 managing to make it through the purge. Details are fairly slim at the moment, though Reuters does report that Apple had initially given these app developers and publishers until the end of June to submit their licenses to sell games and in-app purchases before pushing that deadline back to December 31st.
Just because these games have been pulled for now doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be gone forever, though. Since the license Apple requires only covers paid games in one form or another, developers and publishers without such a license can support their games through ads instead. As AppInChina marketing manager Todd Kuhns noted in a statement to Reuters, those licenses for paid games are hard to come by at the moment, so many of those publishers will likely have to turn to in-game ads if they want their games back on the Chinese App Store.
So, as China rings in 2021, its iOS App Store looks a whole lot different than it did just a day ago. We’ll see what happens from here, but there are a lot of mobile game publishers who need to make some changes if they want to their games back in front of Chinese consumers.