Twitch is no longer available in China. Earlier this week, authorities in that country added the livestreaming platform to its blacklist. The Amazon site joins YouTube and Twitter as sites only accessible using a workaround tool.
The disappearance of Twitch didn’t make a lot of noise because the site isn’t popular in China. It is far less prominent than Douyu, YY, and Huya. These each have tens of millions of monthly active users. Twitch has a fraction of that, according to analysis firm Niko Partners.
“China’s game live streaming market is unique and different to the West,” Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad told GamesBeat. “In China, there are multiple domestic game livestreaming platforms that have achieved popularity such as Huya, YY, and Douyu. These platforms are extremely successful and significantly more popular in China than Twitch due to content and localization.”
Why did China ban Twitch?
But Twitch has existed in China for quite some time. Anyone in that country could log onto the site from any browser for years. So what happened to cause the crack down? Well, it seems like Twitch started to draw some attention to itself, and that pushed regulators into action.
“Twitch recently saw a boost in popularity within China as it was the only broadcaster of certain matches that took place at the Asian Games in Jakarta last month,” said Ahmad. “This temporary boost has put the platform on the radar of authorities who have blocked it, due to the same reasons many other Western sites/platforms are blocked in China.”
Specifically, Chinese authorities likely bristled at Twitch’s chat functionality. The government can control chat on its domestic platforms. It can’t do that with Twitch. And since gamers in that country have alternatives, it’s easier to close it than to work with Amazon on meeting its standards.
“Therefore, the ban doesn’t have as big of an impact as one would think,” said Ahmad.
And savvy internet users in China can still use a virtual private network (VPN) to get to Twitch if they must.