Comment & Opinion

Mass delisting by Apple China: Over 26,000 games without ISBN removed

Yodo1 looks at the impact of so many games suddenly disappearing from the App Store

Mass delisting by Apple China: Over 26,000 games without ISBN removed

At noon on August 1, 26,575 mobile gaming applications had been removed from the Chinese App Store. More than half of these were games with in-app purchases or IAP.

This data comes from Qimai, which has been monitoring Apple's delisting of games in China.

The total number of games removed since July 1 has now surpassed 40,000.


In February, Apple made an official announcement on the implementation of China's rules for games on the nation's App Store. It stated that, in keeping with regulations, mobile gaming apps without a valid ISBN will not be approved by Apple, nor allowed to appear on the App Store in China starting on July 1, 2020. This provided a less-than-half-year grace period for games without a license.

On July 8, Apple sent a reminder to developers: if you do not submit the version number information for your paid game—or any game with in-app purchases—before July 31, it will not be available to players in China after August 1 this year.

Impact on the Chinese Gaming Industry

This mass delisting has reduced the total number of mobile games on the China App Store to 179,000. Of these apps, 26,000 contain IAP while 153,000 are free-to-play titles that monetize with ads instead of internal purchases.

With the number of games greatly reduced, the developers and publishers who will benefit are those who have already obtained or begun the process of obtaining their ISBN. This will enable them to profit in China's diminished mobile gaming landscape.

As Chinese players remain hungry for games, they will concentrate their playing time and money on the limited number of titles that remain available to them.

Data released by the Apple App Store shows $246 billion US dollars in revenue from China for 2019. Accounting for 47.4 percent of the store's worldwide income, the Chinese market is still the greatest revenue contributor for mobile games.

Complying with China’s Tightening Regulations

Apple's recent actions, though seemingly drastic, should not come as a surprise to developers. China's regulation of and approval procedures for video games have been getting stricter over the years—especially with recent concerns about the spread of offensive violent content and the surge in gaming addiction among minors.

According to the Notice on the Management of Mobile Game Publishing Services issued by the former State Administration of Radio, Film and Television in 2016, mobile games that have not been approved by the administration are not to be published or operated online.

As reported by GameLook, Chinese regulators have issued about 43,000 game version numbers or ISBNs since 2010. This would produce an average of about four thousand games per year; however, in 2019 only 1,570 licenses were granted.

With more than 8 years of expertise in China and a track-record of successfully publishing foreign games, Yodo1 can help you obtain the ISBN you need to reach the 600 millions game-hungry players whose choices will soon be limited.

Contact us at to obtain the license, localize your game, and distribute your title in the world's biggest mobile gaming market. regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.