Apple freezes thousands of mobile games on China's App Store following government pressure

App Store
App Store (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has frozen updates on thousands of games on the App Store in China.
  • The move follows government pressure to comply with local regulations.
  • Game developers are supposed to have an official license from regulators to put their games on the App Store.

Apple has reportedly frozen updates on thousands of mobile games on the App Store in China following pressure from the Chinese government over licenses.

According to Financial Times:

Apple has frozen updates for tens of thousands of mobile games on its App Store in China, as it faces increasing government pressure to comply with local regulations.

The report notes that developers require an official license from Chinese regulators in order to put their games on the App Store, but that up until this point, Apple had allowed games to be downloaded from the App Store whilst developers waited for their licenses to be approved.

In February, Apple warned developers that this would change as of June 30. Now, it has told developers that they cannot update their games without a license. According to the report:

Some app developers have stopped serving China users in anticipation of Apple's rule change. Gaming group Electronic Arts posted an in-game notice telling users of Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes it expected its app to be taken down, and that it would stop providing in-app purchases in the meantime.

According to the report, analysts and lawyers believe that China has stepped up enforcement of this measure amidst "broader tensions between Washington and Beijing". One consultant group told FT that "no one is entirely clear" how Apple had managed to avoid the 2016 rule for so long, but that the timing of this move when considering the US-China trade war was "suspicious."

According to that source, the move could cost Apple up to $879 million in lost sales. Apple has 60,000 games on the App Store that are either paid or offer in-app-purchases, however only 43,000 licenses have been issued by regulators since 2010, and just over 1,500 were granted last year.

The report suggests that it would be small game developers, rather than Apple who would be "hurt most by the move."

You can read the full report here.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9