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, reported the Financial Times.
China is Apple’s biggest App Store market, with sales of $16.4 billion a year, according to Sensor Tower data, ahead of the US with $15.4 billion. The bulk of the revenues come from gaming. Until now, Apple has allowed Chinese games to be downloaded from the App Store while their developers wait for an official license from Chinese regulators. But in February, the US company warned game developers they would need to show proof their game had a license by June 30.
“No one is entirely clear how Apple managed to avoid enforcing the 2016 licensing rule for so long. But considering the US-China trade war began heating up earlier this year, the timing is suspicious,” said Todd Kuhns, marketing manager for the consultancy group AppinChina, which estimated that the move could cost Apple up to $879 million in lost sales.
Apple currently hosts roughly 60,000 games in China that are paid for or have in-app purchases, according to AppinChina, but China’s regulators have only issued just over 43,000 licenses since 2010. Only 1,570 were granted in 2019.