Steam is one of the if not the biggest platform for the distribution of digital AAA and Indie games. It produces more than 400 million games being sold every day. The popularity of this platform is undeniable especially in India with almost 120 million active users from the country. But something scary has been looming over these very users recently.
How it started?
On June 17, 2023, a Twitter user going under the handle Indian Shrekt made a tweet stating that Alliance Broadband in Kolkata, West Bengal had restricted access to steam profile, community market and inventory features of the platform. The user said that when he attempted to visit the website using a browser, he was sent to an Alliance Broadband page that claimed access had been restricted due to a "Government Directive." The user went so far as to comment on the utter ridiculousness of a hypothetical platform ban.
This was followed by more reports of specific ISPs in India restricting access to the same features, some even outright restricting use of the entire platform. With many users expecting a potential ban in India, this sparked several questions over why this was happening. Indian Shrekt’s tweet:
Why is this happening?
After further investigation it was discovered that the primary objective of the government was to ban games based on some specific characteristics of said games.
Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar announced that 3 types of games would be banned in India.
· Games that involve betting.
· Games that can be harmful to the user.
· Games that involve a factor of addiction.
The minister further stated that government has prepared a framework regarding online gaming to deal with games that pose these issues. The government's decision to take this action was likely prompted by the numerous incidents of online game addiction that have occurred in the nation.
It is possible as a result of this many of the government-based ISPs banned steam as a platform. It seems that the objective of the government is not to ban entire platforms but games that fill specific criteria. The restriction faced by Indian Shrekt has since been lifted, despite the fact that many other users still experience this problem. It was also stated that the framework's primary targets would be the Google Play Store and the Apple Store, both of which are to mobile platforms. As a result, this action could be seen as some sort of miscommunication between the ISPs and the government.
What’s likely to happen:
Even if it could appear a little alarming to the players, the outright banning of whole platforms seems quite improbable given how rapidly the Indian gaming market is growing and how doing so might harm the nation's economy. The government may decide to ban websites and apps that primarily promote gambling and other addictive behaviours under the guise of being 'Games. Similar issues have been raised in a number of Reddit subreddits, including r/Indian Gaming. However, nothing can be declared with certainty just yet because the government hasn't made any further statements.
Check out r/Indian Gaming subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/IndianGaming/comments/z3cen7/is_steam_going_to_get_banned_in_india/