Steam ban in China may have actually been a DNS attack

The situation is still evolving

After reports that the international version of Steam was banned in China, it appears as though it was a DNS attack instead.

As of right now, exactly what has happened with the global version of the platform in China isn’t 100 per cent confirmed, with conflicting information coming in. On December 25, it was reported that Chinese players were banned from using the international version of Steam, although the onshore version of Steam China is still working as of publication.

In regards to the apparent banning of the global client, SteamDB tweeted: “There are reports of Steam Store being blocked in China.

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“Store and API subdomains appear to experience connection resets on some Akamai IPs (which is typical for great firewall), similar to how GitHub was being blocked. Other subdomains (like partner site) work at the moment.”

Dataminer PlayerIGN also tweeted out a thread that can be found here explaining that a DNS Cache Poisoning attack was stopping some Chinese players from accessing the platform. PlayerIGN contacted multiple Chinese players about access to the global client and received conflicting reports of it working.

A DNS Cache Poisoning attack is essentially where the DNS is hacked to return a different result, which can stop players from accessing a domain or divert them to a different one.

As outlined in a Steamworks post, Steam China has “a prerequisite to publishing games on Steam China,” which “is receiving Chinese government approval for your game.” By our count, there are just over 50 games available on this version of Steam, and many features present in the global client aren’t present.

Steam Deck
Steam Deck. Credit: Valve

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In a 2019 interview with Eurogamer, Valve’s DJ Powers talked about Steam China, and the companies plans for Steam in the country. When asked if Steam global will still be available in China Powers responded: “Nothing will change about Steam global.”

As of publication, there has been no concrete confirmation regarding the cause of the Steam global outage in China, and no word from Valve. This story will be updated when we hear more.

In other news, the development of Final Fantasy 16 has been delayed by “almost half a year” due to the pandemic, with a release date still to be announced.

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