HONG KONG (Reuters) – Apple removed 39,000 gaming apps at its Chinese store on Thursday, the largest removal ever in a day, when it set the turn of the year as the deadline for all gaming publishers to obtain a license.
The removals come amid a fierce attack on Chinese authorities’ unlicensed games.
Including 39,000 games, Apple removed more than 46,000 apps in total from its store on Thursday. Games affected by the sweep included the Ubisoft title Assassin̵
Qimai also said that only 74 of the top 1,500 paid games on the Apple Store survived the purge.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple originally gave game publishers a deadline at the end of June to submit a government-issued license number that allows users to make in-app purchases in the world’s largest gaming market.
Apple later extended the deadline to December 31.
China’s Android app stores have long followed the licensing provisions. It’s not clear why Apple is enforcing them more strictly this year.
Analysts said the move was not surprising as Apple continues to close loopholes in line with China’s content regulators, and will not directly affect Apple’s bottom line as much as previous removals.
“This important rate of accepting only paid games that have a gaming license, combined with China’s extremely low number of foreign gaming licenses approved this year, is likely to lead more game developers to switch to an ad-supported model for their Chinese versions,” said Todd Kuhns, marketing manager for AppInChina, a company that helps foreign companies distribute their apps.
Reporting by Pei Li; Clip by Alex Richardson