Apple prepares to remove thousands more video games from its App Store in China due to pressure from the Chinese government, reports Wall Street Journal. The company had previously warned Chinese video game developers about this award gaming apps were in danger of being removed from the App Store, but the Chinese government is now cracking down even more on games that lack a required license – or any app that it finds illegal.
According to a note obtained by WSJ, developers have until December 31 to provide Apple with proof of their licensing otherwise their games and other apps will be removed from the App Store. But Rich Bishop, CEO of ChinaInApp, told WSJ that very few developers will actually be able to get the license they need from the government to keep their games inside in the App Store.
This legislative policy, first introduced in 2016, was reportedly born of concerns over game addiction and offensive content, but so far many iOS developers have been able to circumvent the mandatory licensing law due to a loophole in Apple’s App Store policies – a loophole that Apple is now closing, judging by this upcoming cleanup. It is unclear what this loophole meant.
But IIt’s not just games that Apple has removed and will likely continue to remove. A mapping app from Hong Kong was removed from the App Store during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests last autumn after Chinese state media said it threatened police authorities. Google also removed the same app at about the same time. Plague Inc., a global pandemic-themed simulation game was also removed. PUBG was banned in 2019. Even Tripadvisor may not be safe from Chinese censors. The Travel app is one of more than 100 apps that China has asked Apple to remove without mentioning a reason.
In 2019, The Chinese State Administration for Press and Publication (SAPP) unveiled its app approval guidelines, which are banned anything that violates or threatens China’s constitution, national security or political climate; games that promote racism or religious cults; and obscene content with drug use, extreme violence or gambling, reported Business Insider.
Following pressure from shareholders over its willingness to comply with Chinese censors, Apple published a document in September on its commitment to human rights. But like it Financial Times pointed out at the time of publication of the document, there is no specific reference to China, or what to do when “China, the world’s largest smartphone market, asks to ban apps that help users evade censorship and surveillance.”
But the document says:
Hand in hand with our users’ privacy is our commitment to freedom of information and expression. Our products help our customers communicate, learn, express their creativity and exercise their ingenuity. We believe in the crucial importance of an open society where information flows freely and we are convinced that the best way we can continue to promote openness is to remain committed, even where we may disagree with a country. lion.
In 2020 alone, Apple removed 94,000 apps from its China App Store, compared to 25,000 games removed last year. according to Sensor Tower. In July, 2,500 mobile games were removed before 31 July deadline for obtaining a license. It is not clear if these games were restoredmoved by the developers or by Apple, but Sensor Tower notes that 80% of these apps had less than 10,000 downloads in China since Jan. 1, 2012.