On Thursday, Apple pulled 39,000 game apps from its China store, the biggest removal ever in a single day, as it set the year-end as the deadline to acquire a license for all game publishers.
The takedowns come amid a crackdown by Chinese authorities on unlicensed games.
Including the 39,000 games, Apple on Thursday pulled more than 46,000 apps in total from its store. According to research firm Qimai, games affected by the sweep included the Ubisoft title Assassin’s Creed Identity and NBA 2K20.
Qimai also said only 74 of the Apple store’s top 1,500 paying games survived the purge.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment immediately.
Initially, Apple gave game developers a deadline at the end of June to apply a license number provided by the government that allows users to make in-app purchases in the world’s largest game market.
The deadline was later extended by Apple to December 31.
China’s Android app stores have long complied with license regulations. Why Apple is applying them more strongly this year is not clear.
As Apple continues to close loopholes to fall in line with China’s content regulators, analysts said the move was no surprise and would not directly impact Apple’s bottom line as much as previous removals.
“However, this major pivot to only accepting paid games that have a game license, coupled with China’s extremely low number of foreign game licenses approved this year, will probably lead more game developers to switch to an advertisement-supported model for their Chinese versions,” said Todd Kuhns, marketing manager for AppInChina, a firm that helps overseas companies distribute their apps.