China crackdown could boot thousands of iOS games from App Store

China crackdown could boot thousands of iOS games from App Store

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screenshot from App Store China
China is strictly enforcing licensing laws for game apps that generate revenue.
Screenshot: Apple

Plague Inc., the popular game pulled from the Apple App Store in China last month, may soon have company – by the thousands.

A new report predicts some 21,500 App Store for-pay titles in China could get tossed because developers will be unable to meet a June 30 deadline for having a license.

Chinese research firm Qimai Data used government data to determine how many unlicensed apps remain in the App Store.

Game apps need a license to make money

Developers with pay apps have been required to apply for a license since 2016. However, rules were not strictly enforced until recently. In February, Apple sent companies a request to submit government approval numbers by June 30.

Around that time, China’s Cyberspace Administration ordered Apple to pull Plague Inc. The developers, Ndemic Creations, said they were told their game included “content that is illegal in China.” No other explanation was provided.

Plague Inc. was an easy target, considering the theme is about managing a pandemic that originates in China. Its popularity soared as the coronavirus began to spread.

“Most of those high-grossing games already have a game license, so are unlikely to be affected by this change,” AppInChina CEO Rich Bishop told the news site Abacus News.

He said the license review could be “a death sentence” for medium- and small-scale mobile games that generate revenue in China without a local partner.

Even so, the new enforcement efforts won’t just hurt game developers. Apple made nearly $9 billion in revenue from the App Store in China. It stands to lose when you consider the company takes 30 percent on all app sales and in-app purchases and will feel the loss in revenue.

“It takes four to eight months to get a game license and [the government] issued a total of just 1,572 game license in 2019,” Bishop told Abacus News. “This means that the vast majority of the 21,563 paid games or games with in-app purchases on the Apple Apple Store in China won’t be able to get a game license for several years, let alone by June 30.”

Source: Abacus News