Hong Kong: Apple removed 39,000 game apps from its China store on Thursday, the largest removal ever in a single day, as it set the end of the year as the deadline for all game publishers to obtain a license.
The removals come amid a crackdown on unlicensed games by Chinese authorities.
Including 39,000 games, Apple removed more than 46,000 apps in total from its store on Thursday.
Games affected by the sweep included Ubisoft Assassin’s Creed Identity and NBA 2K20 titles, according to research firm Qimai.
Qimai also said that only 74 of the 1,500 best paid games on the Apple Store have survived the purges.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple initially gave game publishers a deadline at the end of June to provide a government-issued license number to enable users to make in-app purchases in the world’s largest game market.
Apple later extended the deadline to December 31.
Android app stores in China have long complied with licensing regulations.
It’s not clear why Apple has enforced it more strictly this year.
Analysts said the move was not surprising as Apple continues to close loopholes in line with content regulators in China, and it will not directly affect Apple’s net profits as much as previous removals.
However, this is the main focus for accepting paid games that only have a game license, coupled with the very low number of foreign game licenses approved in China this year, it is likely that more game developers will switch to an ad-supported model for their Chinese releases, he said. Tod Cohns, Marketing Director for AppInChina, a company that helps overseas companies distribute their apps.