Uma Musume yanked from Chinese app stores only two weeks after launch | Pocket

Highly Anticipated Mobile Game Uma Musume Pretty Derby Pulled from Chinese App Stores

The release of the highly anticipated mobile game Uma Musume Pretty Derby was abruptly halted in Chinese app stores just two weeks after its launch earlier this month. The game, which focuses on training “horse girls” to race and compete in tournaments, and includes gacha mechanics, was suddenly removed from the gaming platform Bilibili, where it had exclusively released.

Speculation surrounding the game’s withdrawal suggests a potential connection between its horse-racing themes and gacha mechanics, which may be interpreted as promoting real-world gambling—a practice that is illegal in China. The removal of the game is a significant shift, considering that it was initially approved for launch during the recent round of game license approvals. The unexpected removal also caught many by surprise, evidenced by the 6.8% drop in Bilibili’s share price following the game’s removal.

Uncertainty and Frustration in the Chinese Gaming Market

The lack of clarity surrounding the game’s removal has led to widespread speculation. Official commentary on the matter has only mentioned that the removal was for “technical work.” Such uncertainty further compounds frustration within the Chinese gaming market, particularly because Uma Musume Pretty Derby was not only approved for release before its launch but also because the developer, Cygames, had worked with Bilibili as its official partner—a requirement for launching games in China.

For developers and publishers planning to enter the Chinese market, the sudden withdrawal of Uma Musume Pretty Derby only highlights the increasingly challenging regulatory environment in the country. While most game creators are willing to undergo licensing scrutiny and potentially make localization changes prior to launch, having a game pulled just two weeks after release, especially one that topped the iOS app store charts for free games on its first day, undoubtedly brings significant frustration and disappointment.