On Christmas Eve, China placed the domain for the global version of Steam on the other side of its “great firewall”, meaning China has banned the global version of Steam
Interestingly, the only thing explicitly banned appears to be the global version of Steam’s store. One Twitter user who allegedly resides in China is able to access many of Steam’s features such as messaging, but is unable to purchase anything from the store. You can test it for yourself here.
The user also reported being able to continue playing games of Counterstrike: Global Offensive. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise however, as a Chinese version of the Steam client exists with a limited pool of games, including CSGO.
China’s effective ban of Steam comes at a time where China has rapidly been increasing their restrictions on gaming. Earlier this year the country banned Fortnite after releasing in a limited capacity for Chinese players.
Also this year, China planned to restrict childrens’ online gaming time to only three hours a week and also restricted children under 16 from livestreaming. These changes are part of China’s “10-year plan” on child development.
In recent months, the Chinese government has described gaming as a “spiritual opium” that could “destroy a generation”. These crackdowns have hurt Chinese companies as much as it has western developers, with Tencent losing billions in stock value as a result of these policies.
Ultimately this means that Chinese gamers will be forced to rely on the limited Chinese Steam client which includes major games like DOTA 2 and only a handful of others. Meanwhile western game developers have been quick to point out that this ban will affect their bottom line as now their games will have to pass China’s strict screening before being made available in the country.
It’s unclear at the time of publishing just what (if anything) has motivated China’s banning of Steam.