The Chinese gaming market is an odd one, as it’s simultaneously one of the largest markets in the world and also one of the most heavily regulated ones. This makes it a bit of a gamble for gaming-related businesses looking to heavily invest in the country. According to Eurogamer, Steam seems to have found a sweat spot where they can reap the benefits of the large gaming audience without worrying much about regulations. The result of this? They’ve managed to grow their total user base by more than 30% in just one year!
The Chinese government has a strong presence on all major industries in the country, and gaming is no exception. In mid-August, the government cracked down on gaming-related businesses in the country as they began viewing video games as a potential “threat to society” causing possible addiction and other physical health problems. Since then, no new games have been approved for the market, and some new games that had just started being sold were immediately retracted. The most infamous of these was Monster Hunter: World, leading many fans who had already paid for the game to be forced into collecting a refund.
With this increased pressure on the gaming industry, Chinese gamers have flocked towards Steam, a platform whose hosting is located overseas and thus not subject to government regulation. Eurogamer has reported that the number of Chinese users has doubled to 30 million users in the last year. Steam’s total active user base has jumped from 67 million to 90 million, with a huge chunk of these numbers attributed to the increased Chinese gamers.
One of the most glaring questions that needs to be addressed is why the government hasn’t already restricted access to Steam’s servers – something they’ve done with numerous other platforms that are viewed as potential “risks” to public safety. Last month, the country restricted access to Twitch, meaning that they’re already targeting gaming-related platforms and adding them to their list of banned sites under the “Great Firewall.”
Steam has greatly benefited from their current position, but it seems like it’s only a matter of time before the Chinese government decides to full out block their nationals from accessing its servers.
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