Fancy booting up Twitch and having a go with a few of your friends in Overwatch or Titanfall 2? Well, fat chance. There's no way that's happening in China. A new ban has been passed down from the Culture Ministry that has prohibited live-streaming in mainland China.
According to an in-depth report from Reuters, China has moved in to ban a number of live-streaming services in order to curb culturally inappropriate, damaging, or harmful content that puts the nationalistic integrity of the Peoples Republic of China at risk.
Social media services in China such as Sina Weibo, ACFUN, and Ifeng.com have all been forced to suspend their live-streaming capabilities. The Reuters report notes that there was no notice as to whether or not the prevention of live-streaming across approved internet services in China was a permanent move, but the Weibo Corp has supposedly been in contact with China's government officials to understand the "scope" of the notice and take into account the evaluation of how it would affect their bottom line.
Gamespot goes a bit further in depth, noting that services like Google and Facebook are banned in China due to the way their information is relayed freely across online browsing software. Twitch has also been banned in China, preventing users from live-streaming their gaming sessions out to the public.
What's odd is that Twitch has actually been very selective about what content it allows on the site, and have even taken measures to have sexually explicit games, AO rated games like Manhunt 2 and Hatred, and other adult-themed titles banned from the service. Despite these measures put in place by Twitch, China still doesn't allow live-streaming through the service in the region.
It seems like an odd step back after China just recently lifted the ban on home consoles back in 2015. Sony and Microsoft quickly took advantage of the lift and began selling the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 units in China. However, much like every other company operating in China, the operating systems had to be vastly altered, with Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network being severely limited compared to their other global counterparts.
Additionally, Sony, Microsoft and other publishers faced severe software restrictions, requiring them to abide by the 10 Rules of Censorship that China has in place, preventing games from depicting certain kinds of violence, sexual activity, religious imagery, anti-nationalistic content, or other material deemed potentially harmful to the image of China as a nation and culture.
This move could be more damaging to China's digital ecosystem than it knows. Gamespot notes that other live-streaming services such as Momo and YY grew 180% last year in 2016 as part of the boom in live-streaming.
The issue, however, is that Chinese ministry officials are unable to properly comb through all of a live-stream in order to find anti-nationalistic rhetoric, imagery, or audio, and have it censored. So to play it on the safe side China has simply decided to ban live-streaming until another alternative solution for monitoring and curating the content can be found.