Steam banned in Vietnam

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Vietnam has recently taken action to block access to the popular PC gaming platform Steam, according to reports from various gaming news outlets. The move has sparked discussions within the gaming community about the potential reasons behind the blockage and its implications for the local game development industry in Vietnam.

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What is Steam?

Steam is a prominent video game digital distribution service and storefront developed by Valve Corporation. Launched in September 2003, Steam initially served as a software client for automatic game updates for Valve’s games, later expanding to distribute third-party titles. This platform offers a wide array of features, including game server matchmaking with anti-cheat measures, social networking, and game streaming services. With over 132 million monthly active users, Steam has become the largest digital distribution platform for PC games, holding a significant market share. The service provides a centralized hub where users can buy, download, and play games, interact with other players, and set up multiplayer games.

Also, Steam offers cloud storage for game progress, direct messaging, in-game overlay functions, and a virtual collectable marketplace. Developers utilize Steamworks, an API released in 2008, to integrate Steam’s functions like digital rights management into their games. Steam’s success has led to the development of various hardware products like the Steam Machine gaming PCs, SteamOS Linux distribution, and the handheld Steam Deck. Furthermore, Steamworks has expanded to consoles, enhancing cross-platform play and features for games like “Portal 2” and “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive”. The platform’s continuous growth and innovation have solidified its position as a key player in the gaming industry, shaping the way gamers access and enjoy their favourite titles.

Reasons for the Steam Ban

While the Vietnamese government has not issued an official statement regarding the ban, speculations suggest that it may be related to Valve’s business practices and the rights protection actions of local game developers. According to Vietnamese media outlet VietnamNet, the Steam platform currently hosts a large number of games without requiring approval from the Vietnamese government.

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In contrast, works by local game developers in Vietnam must undergo strict review before being approved for distribution. This disparity has made it difficult for local games to compete with the vast selection available on Steam, leading to concerns from domestic publishers about unfair treatment.

Impact on Local Game Developers

Local game developers in Vietnam argue that the situation is unfair and puts them at a disadvantage. They claim that if Steam continues to distribute games without regulation, it could lead to the destruction of Vietnam’s local game development industry.

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One angry Steam user, commenting on the forum, accused Vietnam’s online game monopolist of falsely claiming that Steam is an illegal platform in order to maintain its market share. The user suggested that players can bypass the blockade by modifying their DNS settings to continue using the Steam platform.

Comparison to Other Countries

The case of Steam in Vietnam mirrors similar instances in other countries, such as China, where Steam faced restrictions and regulatory scrutiny. In response, Steam launched a separate version tailored specifically for the Chinese market, with a curated selection of games and stringent content controls. However, such measures often limit access to certain titles and curtail community features, leading to a fragmented user experience.

The Need for a Nuanced Approach

The situation in Vietnam underscores the importance of balancing innovation with regulatory compliance in the ever-evolving landscape of digital entertainment. While the ban on Steam may serve as a temporary solution, a more comprehensive approach is needed to regulate digital platforms and safeguard local interests.

This includes fostering dialogue between stakeholders, implementing clearer game distribution guidelines, and exploring cross-border cooperation mechanisms. The need for a nuanced and inclusive approach to navigate the complexities of the modern gaming landscape is evident.

Potential Impact on Vietnamese Gamers

The blocking of Steam has directly impacted Vietnamese gamers, who can no longer access the platform through their regular internet service providers. Players have reported that the Steam client and official website have been blocked, preventing them from accessing their games and the platform’s features.

Some gamers have resorted to modifying their DNS settings to bypass the blockade and continue using Steam. However, this workaround may not be a long-term solution, and the effectiveness of such measures remains uncertain.

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Lack of Official Response

As of press time, neither the Vietnamese government nor the Steam platform has responded to the blocking incident. The absence of an official statement from the authorities or Valve Corporation leaves many questions unanswered regarding the specific reasons behind the ban and the potential for a resolution. We will update the article as soon as a response is available.


The blocking of Steam in Vietnam highlights the complex interplay between digital platforms, local regulations, and the rights of game developers. While the Vietnamese government may have legitimate concerns about the distribution of unauthorized games and the protection of local interests, the approach of outright banning a popular platform raises questions about the balance between censorship and the free flow of information and entertainment.

As discussions continue and solutions are sought, it is crucial for all stakeholders, including the government, game developers, and platform operators, to engage in constructive dialogue and work towards a framework that fosters innovation, protects local interests, and ensures a vibrant and responsible gaming ecosystem for all. The case of Steam in Vietnam serves as a reminder of the need for a nuanced and inclusive approach to navigating the challenges of the modern digital landscape.

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