Why Apple Stopped Updating Over 15,000 Games in China's App Store

Apple “has faced mounting pressure from the Chinese government in recent weeks to comply with local regulations, including that all games show proof of a government granted license,” writes Engadget.

And now it’s finally come to a head, CNBC reports:

Apple has blocked updates on tens of thousands of revenue-generating iPhone games on its App Store in China amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, according to a report from The Financial Times…

There are currently around 60,000 mobile games hosted on the China App Store that are paid for or have in-app purchases, according to AppinChina figures cited by the FT. However, China’s regulators have only issued slightly more than 43,000 licenses since 2010, while just 1,570 were given out in 2019… Developers were told in February that they’d finally have to comply with China’s mobile video game laws by June 30…
“Android app stores have largely observed the license rule since 2016,” notes Engadget. “Apple, however, took a looser approach, allowing developers to publish their games while they waited for authorization, which could take months.” (CNBC points out that “Grand Theft Auto” maker Rockstar Games “relied on the loophole for years.”)

They also report that Apple’s App Store earns more money in China than any other country – including about 20% of all of Apple’s in-app advertising revenue. A columnist at The Street estimates that Apple earned about $2.2 billion last year from App Store revenue in China. “If I am right in my calculations, gaming app revenues from China add up to roughly one-sixth of the total company’s number” for App Store revenues

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