The global version of the Steam store is now banned in China, according to multiple reports. Earlier today, Twitter user Ricky Owens (@_FireMonkey) shared the news, which has since been corroborated by various means.
Basically, Steam is stuck in China pic.twitter.com/552bej6vqA
– 🎄 Santa Ricky (@_FireMonkey) December 25, 2021
Indeed, the Steampowered domain is no longer accessible to Chinese users according to Comparitech, while Steamchina is. This is the domain of the Chinese version of Steam, which Valve launched in February 2021 through a partnership with Perfect World.
Steam China is, however, much more limited than the global version. It was built to comply with the strict regulations of the Chinese government on video games and internet use. First of all, to publish a game on this platform, a developer would need the approval of the Chinese government for the game. This is why the Chinese version only had 53 games at launch, not to mention the lack of features like Steam forums, Steam Workshop, Steam Market, etc.
If confirmed, it would look like yet another crackdown on video games by the Chinese government, following massive restrictions just three months ago on the ability of minors to play online.
- Strictly limit the time for providing online gaming services to minors – All online gaming companies can only provide one hour of service to minors from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. per day on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
- Strictly enforce real name registration and online gaming user account login requirements – Do not provide gaming services in any form to users without real name registration and login.
However, according to SteamDB, the Steam client itself is unaffected so far and Chinese users can still play smoothly. It remains to be seen whether these blocks imposed on the store and API subdomains will be extended to affect the customer itself.
https://t.co/CIws7JthEb still works (so only Global Steam is affected).
The Steam client itself is not affected, and users in China can still play just fine for now.
– SteamDB (@SteamDB) December 25, 2021
We’ll update this story as soon as we know of any new details regarding Steam’s status in China.