Chinese users found their Christmas soured over the weekend after Steam Global became inaccessible throughout the country. Although Steam technically isn't banned yet (at least not officially) and the Chinese version remains available, this hasn't stopped users from complaining, as it limits their access to the digital games distribution platform's library from 110,000 games down to just over 100.
Did the Chinese government just ban Steam?
One of the first to notice the downtime of Steam Global in China is Ricky Owens, who is otherwise known as iFireMonkey on Twitter. He uploaded a photo of a list of websites that are currently blocked in China, which now includes "store.steampowered.com". Weirdly enough, others have found out that "store.steamchina.com" remains available in the country, which has led many to believe that the Chinese government has banned Steam Global.
Basically, Steam is blocked in China pic.twitter.com/552bej6vqA
— 🎄 Santa Ricky (@_FireMonkey) December 25, 2021
Steam China is China's version of Steam. Unlike the international version, Steam China only has access to a limited number of games. As of the time of writing, Steam China's library only consists of 103 games, which includes Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The said platform also does not come with a Community Market, Steam Workshop, discussion forums, and other sections that are typically available on Steam.
China has spent the past year imposing several restrictions on users when it comes to gaming. Back in August, the government cracked down on minors spending too much time playing online games. Then, a month later, PUBG Esports was effectively shut down. These are just two of the many measures that the Chinese government has taken in its attempt to curb the amount of time its citizens spend playing video games online.
If it's any consolation, neither Steam nor the Chinese government has confirmed anything. For all we know, a DNS attack might be responsible for making Steam Global unavailable for Chinese users. But, in the off-chance that Steam Global has indeed been banned, it will be interesting to see what will happen to other digital games distribution platforms in China like the Epic Games Store, among others.
In other news, Valve recently denied that it is working on a new Half-Life game. Meanwhile, back in November, the privately-owned video game publisher issued an apology for delaying the Steam Deck to 2022.