Apple to begin removing unlicensed apps in China from August 1st

Workarounds are available, but none of them are perfect

Apple to begin removing unlicensed apps in China from August 1st

Apple will begin taking down unlicensed games from the China App Store on August 1st.

In an email sent to Apple developers - spotted by Youxixinzhi (via AppinChina) - the company has told developers that they must provide an approval number for their game by July 31st.

Any game currently available in Mainland China found to not have the appropriate approval number will be removed by Apple on August 1st. This only applies to premium games or games with in-app purchases.


There are currently two solutions to the problem - change the game's category to something other than "game", or remove the game entirely and apply for a license.

Neither route is a particularly good solution, however. AppinChina points out that changing the category still needs Apple's approval and will have a global impact on your game, while applying for a license can take between six to twelve months, and there's no guarantee it'll ever happen.

One other suggested course of action is to upload a new version of your game for China with all purchases removed and encourage players in the region to switch to your free, ad-supported version while you apply for a license, but this might not work for all developers.

Apple's crackdown on unlicensed apps in China has been brewing since the start of the year. Rumours began circulating about the new measures back in February 2020, and Apple eventually said it would no longer approve unlicensed games in June.


Ric is the Editor of, having started out as a Staff Writer on the site back in 2015. He received an honourable mention in both the MCV and Develop 30 Under 30 lists in 2016 and refuses to let anyone forget about it.