In Apple’s iOS App Store in China, videogames such as “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” “Modern Combat 5” and “The Walking Dead” are for sale. Those games aren’t supposed to be available in the country. They lack approvals from regulators, a prerequisite every game needs before it can be released in China, where games are heavily censored like movies or books.
Game developers, lawyers and analysts interviewed by The Information say games can be sold in Apple’s Chinese App Store even without domestic licenses. It’s a loophole in China’s rules that is widely known but whose reasoning isn’t understood. And it has taken on greater significance lately, as Beijing has been tightening its control over the domestic games market, suspending approvals of licenses for new games pending a reorganization of its media regulator.