China has banned the popular esports streaming platform Twitch. The move by the communist regime came to the surface after the website last week became unavailable in the entire country.
Reports suggest that the Chinese government’s strong stance over the Western internet services topped up with its strict censorship regulations has led to the ban of Twitch in the country.
Chinese Twitch users were angered over the removal of the app, which some say is suppressing free speech.
China has a history of banning foreign websites, particularly the services from the Silicon Valley-based internet and tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. The stance has irked activists and public at large for violating their fundamental rights.
Twitch, the Amazon-owned streaming service, had clocked sky-rocketing viewership numbers during the recently concluded Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang – where esports has made debut as a demonstration event.
The sudden rise in viewers has seen the application reach third rank in China’s App Store, but was made unavailable after days of complaints about poor quality of service.
Twitch’s platform, which has become a major player in the global esports streaming, was covering the Asian Games esports competition – while the event was not broadcast on state-run media in China.
Twitch had confirmed in had been blocked in the country following the government’s tightening controls over the gaming industry in recent months.
In August, the Chinese government had banned the approval of new games, leading to Chinese global internet services and gaming giant Tencent suffering a major stock market plunge, as it looked to address fears over rising myopia cases in young people by imposing restrictions on video games.
The development will come as a blow to several big esports organisations like Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League is only available to watch in China via Twitch. The league currently has two franchisees based in China.
The Chinese city of Hangzhou will host the next Asian Games in 2022 with a possibility of esports becoming a medal event.