Chinese gamers are waking up to find that the Steam Community has been disabled in China. All Steam Community features including wish lists and Steam Trading Cards are affected.
Capsule Computers have reached out to contacts in China to find out more details who report that Valve themselves blocked Steam Community, not the Chinese government. The Steam Community is home to several groups supporting politically sensitive topics, such as Tibetan independence, that are highly restricted or banned in China
Like many large companies operating in China, Valve likely found itself in the difficult position of either adhering to local content rules by limiting access in China or risking a ban by Chinese government regulators. Valve has opted for the first option for good reason. Many gamers in China are PC gamers, likely a result of China’s recent lift of a decade long gaming console ban, and now make up a large part of Steam’s user base. Chinese services like WeGame would be more than happy to fill the void left by Steam, similar to how Weibo and Baidu provide similar services as Twitter and Google in China.
Steam has yet to partner with a local Chinese company in China to ensure better operational certainty in the country. Several other gaming companies have opted to do so, including Blizzard’s partnership with NetEase and Bluehole’s recent partnership with Tencent. Valve’s aggressive actions with Steam Community likely ensures that Valve will be able to keep all their profits in China for themselves a little longer.