Apple removed 39,000 game apps from its China store on Thursday, December 31. This massive move came as a result of Chinese laws stating that all game publishers must obtain a license in order to distribute their titles.

The tech giant removed more than 46,000 apps in total, including the 39,000 game apps from its store on Thursday. According to research firm Qimai, only 74 out of the top 1,500 paid games on the Apple store survived Apple's biggest single-day app takedown incident.

Major titles that were taken down include the NBA 2K20 and Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Identity. Qimai said among those game apps that have been removed from the App Store in China, 27 games have been on the top free game list and top paid game list of 2020.

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Apple removes 39,000 game apps from China store to meet deadline Robert Galbraith/File Photo/Reuters

Year-End Deadline

Apple earlier decided to tighten its regulations on game version numbers and in July this year the company informed some developers via email that the games would no longer available on App Store in China.

In December, Apple again sent a notice to the developers, stating that Chinese law requires games to obtain an approval number from the National Press and Publication Administration.

"In order to keep your paid game or game or game with in-app purchases available on the App Store in China mainland, enter your approval number and supporting documents in the App information section of your game's page in App Store Connect and submit an update to App Review by December 31," said Apple.

The company also clearly stated that after the given time the apps will no longer be available on the App Store in China until an approval number is provided with the next submission. Even though the license requirement has been around for some time, it is not clear why the company is enforcing them more strictly this year.

App Store sale - Free iOS apps
Apple removes massive 39,000 game apps The Verge/YouTube

According to analysts this mass removal of apps is no surprise, reported Reuters. The company has frequently faced such challenges when doing business in China. A Wall Street Journal report said that the app stores of the company are subject to local rules and sometimes receive requests to delete some apps.

In response to the report about video game removal, a spokesman said: "Apple studies these requests carefully whenever we receive them, and we contest and disagree with them often."

He added that even though the final decisions sometimes run contrary "to our wishes", Apple believes that its customers are best served when the company remains in the country providing them access to products that promote self-expression with world-class privacy protections.