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China bans global version of Steam, per reports

The Steam China launch event in August 2019 in Shanghai - CC BY-SA

Steam, as well as its associated services such as Steam Community, Steam Workshop, Steam’s forums, and others, have been blocked by the Chinese government, according to reports.

As part of its policy of tightening control over video games, the Chinese government has blocked Steam’s China domain, leaving one of the country’s biggest PC gaming markets without access to its most popular platform for playing PC games.

For years, the international version of Steam has been available in China, despite strict rules governing video games and other software, where any app can only operate in China if it has a Chinese version.

Despite technically infringing Chinese rules, Valve (Steam publisher) was permitted to run Steam in China because Dota 2 is extremely popular in the country, and Steam has helped the Chinese video game industry flourish and sell its titles to the rest of the globe.

However, in February of this year, the Chinese version of Steam was released, and many already speculated that, with the debut of Steam China, it would only be a matter of time until Chinese officials banned the international version.

Steam Global banned in China

On December 24, the Steam international domain and associated services have been blacklisted. Blacklisting means Steam hasn’t just been temporarily taken down but has been banned intentionally.

This information has been shared and confirmed by users on Twitter, Reddit, and ResetEra. Leaving Chinese players outraged and shocked by the news.

Reports began to surface when various Chinese players complained on the Chinese social media site that they were unable to log on to their Steam accounts or open the official Steam website. Additionally, a lot of players are also reporting issues with the Steam community pages are no longer accessible.

The government’s move is shocking but fits with what it has done with video games in the past 12 months. Some of the biggest gaming companies in China, such as Netease and Tencent, were forced to incur severe losses as a result of China suspending the approval of new online games in September. On November 15, the government also shut down Fortnite.

Furthermore, children’s online gaming time is now limited to three hours per week, and children under the age of 16 are no longer permitted to stream.


Steam’s two most popular games, Dota 2 and CSGO, can still be found on Steam China even though the global version of Steam is blocked. Others include Monster Hunter World, GTA Online, Destiny 2, etc., which are not official games in China and are only accessible through the global client.

It is not clear what impact this will have on Chinese games in the future. Although most will still be able to land on Steam China, they may have to partner with outside developers to land on Steam Global, and doing so may cause them to miss out on Steam China.

Steam’s blockage, like many other government prohibitions, will most likely be bypassed through VPNs, which are widely used by gamers and internet cafés in China despite being legally prohibited. However, VPNs don’t always work perfectly, so Chinese gamers will most likely still face a hard time using the global version.