Uma Musume Pretty Derby removed from Chinese app stores, sparking speculation that it may encourage gambling
Uma Musume Pretty Derby, which has already generated over $2 billion globally, recently launched in China. However, the game was suddenly removed from local app stores despite previously receiving a publishing license from the regulator.
As reported by the South China Morning Post, Bilibili removed Uma Musume Pretty Derby from the App Store and local Android stores last Friday. This happened less than two weeks after the company released it in the country.
The official reason described in a Weibo post is the “need for technical upgrades.” Players who have already installed Pretty Derby will be able to continue to play it, but it currently remains unavailable for new users.
The news eventually sparked controversy and led to speculation that the game could have been delisted due to its content. Uma Musume Pretty Derby not only features horse racing elements, but also gacha mechanics, which could encourage gambling. According to the SCMP, Chinese gaming regulations “bar the encouragement of illegal activities,” making things like betting on equestrian sports a sensitive topic.
However, the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA), which grants licenses to video games, hasn’t commented on the removal of Uma Musume Pretty Derby. In fact, the regulator approved the game for publication in China earlier this year, along with 26 other foreign titles.
It is worth noting that a game from a non-Chinese developer must not only receive regulatory approval, but also have a local partner. It appears that Bilibili was the company that helped Cygames, the original creator of Pretty Derby, launch the title in China.
Launched globally in February 2021, Uma Musume Pretty Derby combines elements of life sim and horse racing genres. The main thing that made it so popular in Japan and Asia in general were Horse Girls characters and the fact that it was based on the popular Japanese media franchise of the same name.
As a result, Pretty Derby has already generated over $2 billion in player spending on iOS and Android. According to Sensor Tower, it is one of the fastest mobile titles to hit this mark. Prior to its launch in China, the top 3 countries by revenue remained Japan (95% of the total), South Korea (3.3%), and Taiwan (1%).