China is a huge market for gaming, and likewise, Twitch is the largest streaming platform in the world. Unfortunately for Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, it will have to forge ahead without a presence in China, at least for now. China decided to block Twitch not longer after the streaming service experienced a surge in downloads in the area.
Twitch is gone from Apple's App Store in China after recently rising to near the top of the chart, landing at No. 3 among free app downloads. The rise in downloads is attributable to the Asian Games, and state broadcaster CCTV deciding to now to air the esports event. As a result, users in China flocked to Twitch to tune into the event.
It's a weird situation, and it could foreshadow future problems for Valve as it attempts to broaden availability of its Steam platform in China. As it stands, Steam is partially available in China.
China is known for its strict censorship of the web. Part of what's interesting about its apparent decision to block users from tuning into the Asian Games via Twitch is that China did well during the event, defeating Taiwan to win the Arena of Valor gold medal for the first time. It was a big moment for competitive gaming in China, where esports is already very popular.
That might be precisely the reason why China asserted its authority over Twitch. This could be a power play by China, as if anyone needs reminding that it holds the cards when it comes to online censorship in the country. Or it could have to do with China wanting to stifle talk of censored subjects through Twitch.
It's all a big mystery at this point—Twitch has confirmed to multiple media outlets that it has in fact been blocked in China, but has not shared why. In addition, China has not release a statement on the matter. Whatever the reason, it's a crummy situation for fans of esports in China.