Steam is popular in China not for its video games but for bypassing pornographic contents

Valve created the video game digital distribution service and storefront Steam which has been popular in China for providing access to watch pornographic content bypassing state-sponsored censorship. There is noticeable popularity of Wallpaper Engine apps in China for letting Chinese people watch pornography on their network. Sources say that almost 40% of Wallpaper Engine users are from China with more than 200,000 reviews appreciating developers for not removing pornographic content.

Steam the video game distribution service also acts as a medium for downloading interactive and animated wallpapers. Steam has international high-speed servers and is a community-friendly global platform that allows users to switch out static wallpapers for dynamic ones. Steam can be used as a Wallpaper Engine and is the most played non-game software in China. However, its popularity as a Wallpaper Engine is highly restricted to the region of China where porn is banned. While Steam does not have popularity for its erotic content in Europe or America, it has a massive amount of viewership solely in China. A Chinese gamer living in Beijing has said, “It was at least two or three years ago when this went viral. I was confused why it was always [on the top 10 played games ranking]. Did people like to change their wallpapers so often?”

A Chinese journalist has observed this phenomenon in 2020 that Steam is being mentioned too many times on social media platforms in China. He then downloaded Steam and tried testing it as WallPaper Engine. According to the journalist he observed there were mostly hentai animated porn, Donald Trump memes, and pirated copies of Hollywood movies.

According to reports, almost half a million Steam reviewers of Wallpaper Engine were by someone who speaks Chinese and included the use of the word ‘porn.’ According to Steam’s latest sampling survey of June 2022, almost 21% of traffic is noted from China only.

In China, pornography-related websites are completely banned and all contents related to it are removed from Chinese social media sites. Uploading or reporting of porn can lead a person to jail as it is considered a crime in the nation. This is the probable reason Chinese people have found a loophole to use the video game distribution service as a means of indulging in pornographic content without being detected by the authorities.