The Dragon weeps because yet another form of entertainment is gone – earlier this September, Twitch was banned in China. The popular streaming service for eSports events and individual gameplay has been removed from China’s App Store, where it was the third most popular free app. It’s official website has also been blocked.
Bought by Amazon in 2014, Twitch underwent a worldwide popularity surge early this year, with China experiencing an unprecedented and, apparently, fatal spike last month. What has caused this spike? More importantly, what can Chinese Twitch fans do now that it’s banned?
The rise and fall of the Twitch Dynasty in China
The Jakarta Palembang 2018 Asian Games, which ended in September 2, was the first international sports event to feature eSports. Unfortunately, the Chinese state broadcaster didn’t include the Games in their program, which resulted in hordes of locals tuning in to Twitch.tv to see their fellow countrymen compete. This popularity spike would actually have been much greater, if not for the already-reduced speed of Twitch in China (where there’s not a single Twitch server).
Some internet users speculate that the ban might have been a consequence not of the streaming itself, but of the ability it gives to freely talk to viewers from across the globe. In any case, we’re unlikely to see Twitch ban lifted anytime soon, just as it happened with Google, YouTube, and other services.
Twitch is the most popular in South Korea, which has a strong eSports culture, followed by Taiwan. This may act as a barometer indicate the app’s possible success in China, should it ever again be allowed past the Great Firewall. If it did happen, this would almost certainly boost the already impressive numbers (15 million active viewers and over 2 million streamers) to new heights. Twitch aims to become the primary streaming option not only for eSports but also other types of entertainment, such as concerts and music festivals.
Twitch ban in China is important not only for gaming enthusiasts but also for the whole global gaming business and the opportunities the Chinese market could bring. The revenues of the eSports industry arrive mostly from the tech sponsorships and advertising, and that is what interests Amazon and other tech giants, like Google or Facebook, the most. With more than 20% compound annual viewer increase and 30% annual growth in prize money, it is estimated that eSports revenue will reach $900 million in 2018, which is 80% more than two years ago.
This move by the Chinese government is a sad one, but not unexpected, at least for gaming enthusiasts. Earlier this year, community pages of Steam – a service offering video games, matchmaking servers, video streaming, and social networking – have been blocked. After completely blocking Twitch, the time might come for Steam, which still holds the bastion for Chinese gamers.
So after the Chinese Twitch ban, is there a way to still use this service?
How to access Twitch after it’s been banned in China
As of now, the only way to access Twitch in China is to use some sort of geo-spoofing service, like a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Since streaming requires quite a lot of speed, a good internet connection is mandatory (especially because there are no Twitch servers in China). Therefore, it would be best to check VPN services that have a decent amount of servers in Asia. One of them is Astrill VPN, which also offers dedicated VIP servers for significantly greater speed and connection stability.
You should always beware that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may throttle your connection. They do that for high-demand bandwidth services, such as Twitch. This means you might have great speed when browsing and occasional freezing when streaming HD content. Here comes the VPN to the rescue at it can help avoid speed throttling.
Of course, if you’re into more than just gaming, security and customer support may also be of concern – not to mention the price. There’s no need to invest in a sub-par tool – check out the top VPN providers and see which one feels like the one you want to try. Most of them have free trials, therefore you shouldn’t worry about paying for something that will not be able to unlock Twitch or some other service banned in China.
If you don’t want to pay for a VPN, there are also free options. Be warned, however – the lack of security should be enough to drop this idea, especially in China. Even if it wasn’t, free VPN services aren’t praised for their great connection speed. Most are guaranteed to lag, usually resulting in frustration and, consequently, high blood pressure – a thing all of us should avoid. What is more, free VPNs are more likely to get blocked, with your stream of the final round in League of Legends drying up just before the climax. Don’t become a victim of rage – please, keep calm and use a paid VPN for Twitch.