App StoreSource: Joe Keller / iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple is set to remove thousands of games from the Chinese App Store.
  • Developers are required to get a license in China to continue offering their games.
  • The deadline goes into effect on June 30th.

Apple has informed developers who offer iPhone games in China that they are now required to obtain a license from the Chinese government in order to continue offering those games in the Chinese App Store.

Reported by Bloomberg, developers have until the end of June to obtain a games license from the local government or the app will face removal from the App Store beginning in July.

"Developers and publishers in China have been told that their iOS games will need licenses to continue operating from July, according to people familiar with the matter. The decision ends the unofficial practice of allowing games to be published while awaiting authorization from the country's slow-moving regulators."

According to the report, app stores for the Android platform have been enforcing these local rules for the last four years. Since Apple had not, games like Grand Theft Auto and others have flocked to Apple's App Store to reach customers in the region.

"This has until now allowed games such as Grand Theft Auto, whose gory depictions of violence are unlikely to ever pass muster with Chinese censors, to be available within the country's borders. China's regulators require all games that are either paid or offer in-app purchases to submit for review and obtain a license before publication, and major Android app stores have enforced such rules since 2016. But unapproved games have flourished on Apple's iPhone platform."

Apple had contacted developers about the new rule in February but had apparently been vague as to whether or not the rule would be enforced and what consequences would exist for those who did not meet the requirement.

"Back in February, Apple reminded iOS developers in the country to obtain licenses for their titles by June 30. But it was only after prolonged uncertainty about enforcement that the iPhone maker explicitly told publishers that any unlicensed games after the deadline will be banned and removed from the local App Store, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is not public."

This latest move by Apple to adhere to the laws of the Chinese government. Just recently, the company had removed a podcast app from the Chinese App Store after the developer refused to censor certain content from creators.