Steam has become an inseparable part of the gaming community around the world and, by extension, the Steam Community. Naturally, the platform is also huge in India, partly because of the payment options provided by Nodwin Gaming’s sister company, Novaplay. Unfortunately, it seems that many Indian gamers across the country were in for a rude awakening when various Indian ISPs started blocking the Steam Community. But why is this happening, and how did it start? Let’s find out.
The Ban on Steam Community Begins
The problem with the Steam community in India started last week when Twitter user @indianshrekt made a post on June 17th. In it, he claimed that West Bengal’s Alliance Broadband blocked access to the Steam Community. Under Steam Community, users can access the marketplace that allows skins and trading card exchange, access their user profile, and check the forums. Essentially the majority of the functionality of the application.
The block was later lifted after multiple users contacted the ISP and complained. Known industry insider Rishi Alwani also helped bring light to the issue on Twitter. Upon query, a representative from Alliance Broadband last week commented that they “removed the block but are still verifying the directive details.”
As of writing this, I contacted Alliance Broadband, whose representative confirmed that their server authorizing team previously received directives from the central government and blocked the website. When requested to disclose the directive, the person declined, stating they were unaware of the exact reason. However, they did reiterate that the block was removed and that Alliance will block Steam Community if they receive another proper directive.
Immediately following that, multiple BSNL Fiber, GTPL Hathway in Ahmedabad, Tata Play Fiber, Channel 3, and other local ISP users in Maharastra have since seen Steam Community get blocked over the next couple of days. One Twitter user also claimed that they could not access the entirety of Steam, including the storefront and community section. Connect Broadband also blocked Steam Community, though only the www URL.
Numerous users from the above ISPs have since asked their operators, and every ISP parroted the same thing- that it was a directive from the government, and they are complying with it. None of the companies have since clarified these directives. We have tried connecting with these ISP providers and will update you if we receive any comments.
As of writing this, the only response we received from Tata Play Fiber is a mail from the customer team informing us that they are glad they resolved our issue. Take it as you will.
Indian Union Minister’s Crackdown on Gaming
On 12 June 2023, the Union Minister of Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrashekar, announced India banning three specific sorts of games in the country. The minister said that the government made a framework regarding online gaming, and they will not allow 3 types of games. These are:
- Games that involve betting.
- Games that can be harmful to the user.
- Games that involve a factor of addiction.
The minister did not clarify how they will classify the games, but these regulations will go into effect soon. Co-incidentally, the Alliance Broadband block on Steam Community happened on 17 June, five days after this announcement. Additionally, the Steam community block on multiple ISPs went into effect after the declaration by the Union Minister. This brings up questions regarding this directive received by the ISPs. After all, this information is currently secretive, and ISP providers are reluctant to disclose the same.
It is worth mentioning that Nodwin Gaming has been quiet regarding this whole Steam community saga. For the un-initiated, Nodwin Gaming’s sister company Novaplay takes care of the localized payment portals for Steam in India. We’ve tried reaching out to the CEO of Nodwin Gaming, Akshat Rathee, regarding the situation and are awaiting a response. We shall update this article if we receive any official comments on the situation.
Bans like these put the wrong precedence on a region that is slowly gaining traction among the developers and publishers of video games. Not only does it harms the ecosystem, but it also makes international publishers reluctant to expand in the country. With Sony PlayStation eyeing to help out game development in the country, and multiple indie developers relying on Steam, such sporadic bans bring more harm than good. For now, the only thing we can do is keep an eye on the development of this situation.