Twitch, the most popular live streaming service in the world, has just been reportedly blocked in China under nebulous circumstances. This all happened after it skyrocketed in popularity, becoming the third most-downloaded app in the country.
The move was a quiet one, with the app disappearing from online marketplaces like the iOS App Store. Access to the website was also blocked for internet users. It was unannounced, and Twitch confirmed the news only after being asked by Abacus. No reason was given.
The surge in popularity occurred during the 2018 Asian Games esports event. The tournament wasn’t broadcast by China’s state broadcaster, CCTV, so many flocked to the streaming outlet.
This is similar to what happened to YouTube, which was also banned in China. However, the YouTube app was not removed from stores. It can still be download, but using it does nothing. Other services and sites banned in the country include Facebook, Google, and Reddit.
There’s been a range of speculation over the rationale behind China’s Twitch ban. Some see it as the government cracking down further on gaming, while others see it as a more political move. There was apparently a war of words with users during the Asian Games, which led some to think this Twitch block is a result of people’s behavior and an attack on free speech.
This is just one of many controversies Twitch has found itself in during 2018. Twitch Prime membership took away ad-free viewing in August 2018, and the company suffered a number of layoffs in March 2018.