Apple fired App Store staff in China over inappropriate dealings with game developers

Apple has reportedly fired at least five employees in the company’s Chinese App Store division following an internal investigation into allegations of business misconduct, as reported by The Information

Following an extensive year-long internal investigation, Apple allegedly uncovered a series of violations that included inappropriate interactions with mobile game developers, allegations of sexual assault, and various other violations.

The investigation, finalized roughly in the middle of this year, was instigated by an “internal audit” that revealed certain “irregularities” during 2022. The report indicates that over half a dozen members of the App Store business team in China were implicated in the probe, with at least five of them subsequently terminated based on the investigation’s outcomes.

Apple’s investigation revealed that the employees had accepted complimentary meals and nightclub excursions from developers and consultants affiliated with enterprises that purportedly have the ability to secure game features in the App Store.

“While the full extent of the facts turned up by Apple’s internal investigation couldn’t be learned, none of the fired employees had the power to directly approve or reject apps from the App Store,” the report says.

“However, some of the fired employees held roles that could influence which apps were featured in the App Store, though it wasn’t clear if they featured apps of developers with which they had unsanctioned contact.”

The report elaborates on Apple’s stringent communication protocols in such instances. For instance, it specifies that App Store review and editorial staff are prohibited from meeting with developers unless prior approval has been granted. In contrast, employees engaged in “developer relations and business management” are permitted to engage with developers, but they are not permitted to accept costly gifts or dine on expensive meals.

Apart from the terminations related to business misconduct, The Information also disclosed that Apple dismissed an App Store staff member in the previous year due to allegations of sexual assault involving an employee at Mihoyo.

“Separate from the business misconduct probes, Apple also fired one App Store employee last year for allegedly sexually assaulting an employee at Mihoyo, a Chinese game developer known for its popular mobile game Genshin Impact, this person said. The fired employee didn’t respond to a request for comment, and spokespeople for the developer didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment,” the report says. 

“Without commenting on the specific allegations of this report, Apple expects its employees worldwide to abide by its very strong ethics and business conduct policies. We thoroughly investigate reports of improper conduct and when appropriate will not hesitate to take immediate action up to and including termination,” Apple said in a statement. 

Written by Maya Robertson


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