Popular video game launcher Steam had been made inaccessible in China over Christmas.
While it did eventually return and the Chinese government has not officially banned the platform, many developers and Chinese gamers are worried that it may have been blacklisted and could be banned sometime in the future.
The original story that first circulated on the 25th of December was that Steam had been banned from China.
It however was later found that Steam was not banned but rather subject to a DNS attack and this prevented Chinese users from accessing the website.
STEAM CHINA UPDATE
Our team in China did some digging & research, it looks like this was yet another DNS attack to flag it(there was a similar one in the past), so it’s not banned. Yet.
HOWEVER, as I’ve been saying this is not a matter of “if” but “when”. https://t.co/tmlzNSTWW5
— Vlad【尉遲衛德】 (@Stutsies) December 25, 2021
On the 28th of December, a post on Weibo new channel Whale Video found on the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s domain name information filing management system, that the Global Steam platform (steampowered.com) had been blacklisted and that clicking on a link to it would redirect the user to the Chinese version of Steam which has significantly fewer games, 103 vs hundreds of thousands.
“the main domain name of the global Steam game platform (steampowered.com) had been blacklisted, and searching for the domain name within the browser would automatically jump to another domain name (store.steamchina.com)”
Whale Videos reached out to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology who responded that they didn’t know why Steam was blacklisted and did not receive any notification about it but said that if it was blacklisted then it’s because it violated the country’s terms and laws.
The global Steam store seems to now be working again in China with developers like Neon Doctrine CCO Vladyslav Tsypljak saying that his team in China was blocked out for a few hours but later regained access to Steam after several attempts at connecting to the website.
Many however are still concerned if it could lead to Steam being properly banned later down the line.
China’s wider Restrictions on Gaming
China has been undergoing a wider crackdown on gaming. In August they imposed heavy restrictions on minors playing video games, only allowing under 18 gamers to play for three hours a week. China would also restrict depictions of harsh violence and effeminate men.
In order for an online video game to get published in China, the publisher must acquire a game license from the Chinese government. The Chinese government however has not issued any new licenses since July 2021.
Steam as an international domain does not have to acquire a gaming license or adhere to China’s regulations. This has made it one of the most accessible places for Chinese gamers to purchase games from overseas as well as for Chinese developers to sell their games to a global market.
Banning Steam could be possible if the Chinese government wished to further enforce the use of the gaming license and restrictions on Chinese developers and consumers.
There has currently been no comment from Valve regarding this situation.
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