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The Chinese Official Explaining Why Steam Was Not Banned in China Turned Out to be a Charlatan

By Dan
Dec. 8, 2021 updated 07:16

Last weekend, a paragraph written by someone claiming to be a government official took the Chinese internet by storm. The gaming platform Steam operates in China in a grey area. Despite it having servers and a content delivery network in mainland China, technically the platform doesn’t provide any direct service to its Chinese users. This allows Steam to bypass most of China’s video game publishing regulations, and release games without having a publishing license. 

The Chinese government is clearly aware of Steam’s existence, but due to complicated reasons, the platform has remained in its current state. However, this is certainly not a long-term solution, and as the government tightens control on underaged players’ gaming time, many gamers worry that Steam will eventually have to set up a separate platform that strictly follows Chinese regulations, or will have to cease operation in mainland China for good.

With the current circumstances, it’s not difficult to understand why an “insider look” on "why Steam is still operating in China as a foreign entity" would stir up attention. And that’s exactly what Yu Peng, an internet influencer with more than 100 thousand followers on social media did.  In a post on social media platform Zhihu, Yu claimed he was "giving the definitive answer to this question".

The explanations given by Yu Peng include that the Chinese government expects Steam to become an incubation platform for domestic games and that the quality of Chinese games on Steam is pretty high in general, which seemed legit. 

Yu’s post can be summed up as the government is willing to collaborate with Steam and will loosen up control on video game publishing in the near future. 

His claims run counter to the current consensus of the situation within the industry, but when some people questioned the credibility of his claims, Yu implied that he was involved in the administrative process of letting Steam operate in China.

Some other user, perhaps carrying out some research after seeing this conversation, commented that Yu Peng is "a National People’s Congress (NPC) deputy…and a member of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT)" and reminded XYZ1 to "pay attention to what you say."

At this point, people’s enthusiasm for gossip was set off. In addition to being an NPC deputy and member of MIIT, rumor has it that Yu Peng is also a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), has served in the Department of Personnel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has served as the editor-in-chief of The Weapon Magazine.

Someone identified a Chinese deputy consul general in Chicago named Yu PengSomeone identified a Chinese deputy consul general in Chicago named Yu Peng

To his credit, Yu never identified himself as having those government titles. But he never clearly denied these assumptions either and has instead often replied to comments in a manner that suggests he’s someone of importance.

Yu’s post on Zhihu was soon considered to be a sneak peek of Steam’s future leaked by “someone from higher up”, and went trending on other social media, stirring up a conversation about the government’s attitude toward Steam and the video game industry in general.

XYZ1, who initially questioned Yu Peng’s credibility, was also taunted by some of Yu’s supporters.

People replied to “XYZ1” teasingly: “Now you can tell everyone who the hell this is” “You should be thankful that we are living in a rule of law society: back in the feudal society your entire family would have been sentenced to death”People replied to “XYZ1” teasingly: “Now you can tell everyone who the hell this is” “You should be thankful that we are living in a rule of law society: back in the feudal society your entire family would have been sentenced to death”

Yet things took a turn in less than a day:  people familiar with government branches pointed out that much of Yu’s supposed identity just didn’t add up. Some of the accounts commenting on the importance of Yu seem to have been created to only do this one activity. 

Then a blogger who worked at Norinko (parent company of The Weapon Magazine) reported that among all the rumored identities of Yu Peng, only the work experience at The Weapon Magazine was true, and he was not the editor-in-chief. The Weapon Magazine’s official Weibo account then forwarded the blogger's weibo, saying that Yu Peng only worked as a copy editor between 2000 and 2001.

Realizing that Yu Peng was probably more of a fraud than an expert, Zhihu and other social media platforms quickly banned his account. The news was then forwarded by a few famous accounts in the gaming industry, which announced the end of Yu Peng’s “official” identity and this momentary internet joke.

Steam News forwarded that Yu Peng’s account has been banned by ZhihuSteam News forwarded that Yu Peng’s account has been banned by Zhihu