App StoreSource: Joe Keller / iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple is purging games from its App Store in China.
  • That's because of changes to licensing restrictions in the country.
  • More than 4,500 games have been removed in just three days.

Apple has purged more than 4,500 games from its App Store in just three days, following a change to licensing restrictions in China.

Earlier this week it emerged that Apple had frozen thousands of mobile games on China's App Store at the behest of the government. The reason? A change to licensing restrictions.

All app developers need an official license from regulators in China to put their games on Apple's App Store. Previously, developers were allowed to have their games go live whilst they were waiting for their license to be approved. A rule change earlier this year means that developers will now have to secure a license before submitting their apps. The change came into force on June 30, and Apple's initial response was to freeze updates for "tens of thousands" of mobile games from unlicensed developers.

Now, frozen games that are updated are getting removed from the App Store due to the freeze. As TechNode reports:

More than 3,000 games have been removed from Apple's China App Store in the first two days of July, a move the company has warned developers about as it closes a loophole which allowed unlicensed paid games to list on the platform.

The report notes that this is "one of the biggest game purges on Apple's App Store" ever.

AppInChina told the outlet:

"We are seeing unprecedented numbers of games dropping off the Apple App Store China daily since Apple implemented this new policy on July 1. Sadly, because China only approves about 1,500 game licenses a year, and the process itself takes six to 12 months, most of these apps will be waiting a long time before they are allowed back on the store."

Specifically, 1,571 apps were removed on July 1, 1,805 on July 2, and 1276 on July 3. This is a huge increase on the usual numbers of about 200 titles per day. Developers can, however, avoid this by not updating their app, as games are not being actively removed. It is estimated that more than 20,000 apps could be affected in total.