Apple recently put on hold the updates for tens of thousands of mobile games on its App Store in China, as the company faces increasing pressure from the Chinese government to comply with national regulations.
This is a pragmatic move on the tech giant company’s part, as China is Apple’s biggest market for its App Store, accounting for $16.4bn of annual revenue according to data from Sensor Tower, putting it ahead of the US, which accounts for $15.4bn. The bulk of Apple’s revenue from China comes from gaming, and gaming-related apps.
Apple has been allowing people to go to the App Store, read more on their website, and download Chinese games, even if said games’ devs haven’t received licensing and certification from local regulators.
That changed when Apple warned game developers would need to prove they had licensing by the end of June. On Wednesday, Apple openly stated that developers on their App Store won’t be able to update their apps without getting proper licensing.
Analysts and lawyers in Beijing spoke on the matter; saying that these changes can be traced to the Chinese government, which has, reportedly, cracked down on Apple, China’s operating largest US company, following tensions between Beijing and Washington.
Consultancy group AppinChina’s Marketing Manager, Todd Kuhns, spoke on the issue, saying that it isn’t really clear how Apple avoided having to enforce the licensing rule until 2020, which was put in effect in 2016. The recent development from Apple, they note, is timed suspiciously, with the US-China trade war earlier in the year.
Apple hosts about 60,000 games that are paid or come with in-app purchases in China, available to download and read more on their website, but Chinese regulators only properly issued 43,000 licenses since the start of the decade, with only 1,570 being issued for the whole of 2019.
Beijing lawyer Liu Wei, of the Dare & Sure firm, explained that the problems that Apple is facing in China are related to the US-China geopolitical climate, on top of the country’s developing smartphone industry. He says that Apple is actually risking a lot being in China, providing value-added content, and services via the internet, in spite the market having been ditched by other foreign companies.