Steam just got banned in Vietnam – but a VPN is a quick fix

In recent days, Vietnam has seen gaming service Steam become inaccessible after a long-existent piece of legislation was finally put into force.

May 15, 2024 - 18:50
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Steam just got banned in Vietnam – but a VPN is a quick fix

Gaming fanatics in Vietnam are in disbelief this week as popular gaming store Steam has seen its services banned in the country. The reasons behind the ban are somewhat clouded in mystery, as the actions may be due to some changes in legislation a few years ago, but there are rumblings of discontent from local publishers which could also prove to be behind the ban. 

With different theories running wild across online forums, we've broken down everything we know—or think we know—about the ban. To help you get your head around how to fix the issue, I've explained everything you need to know to regain access to your precious Steam games using a VPN, and recommended some of my top picks you can use, all of which offer 30-day money-back guarantees so you can trial with confidence.

Why is Steam banned in Vietnam?

Currently what we know about why Steam is banned in Vietnam is coming from theories and local news outlets, as nothing official has been stated by Vietnamese authorities to explain exactly why the ban was put in place. Despite this, three main theories are circulating among forum-loving gamers, which are:

Is Valve paying its taxes? I'd certainly hope so, but given some changes to the law in recent years, it's an entirely likely cause. An amendment to a 2019 tax law means e-commerce sites such as Steam now have to start paying Vietnamese taxes on purchases made. If, for whatever reason, Steam wasn't doing this, then it'd make sense for Vietnamese authorities to, if you excuse the pun, see the red mist. 

Steam

Steam users in Vietnam begun reporting server errors when trying to access the site around a week ago (Image credit: Photo Oz / Shutterstock)

Vietnamese developers believe Steam is illegally selling some games. A more rogue theory than most, but currently the most evidenced. It is supposed that Steam has been releasing hundreds of thousands of unlicensed games into the Vietnamese market. A Vietnamese game developer—which impacted gamers assumed to be VTC—stated that Steam's actions were "an injustice to domestic publishers." 

Given this is the only statement we've seen surrounding the ban, it's being seen as one of the most credible theories, especially when you consider the restrictions put on Steam in other eastern countries. Despite this, the statement being made by an unnamed game developer does beg the question as to whether local publishers are merely concerned about Valve's growing monopoly in the gaming sphere and the impact it might have on them.

Steam hasn't been properly amending its releases for Eastern markets. Some markets, including Vietnam, have restrictions surrounding blood and sexual content in gaming releases, requiring that games be amended before release to remove such content to adhere to local laws. Were Steam to fail to adhere to these rules when releasing titles, it's possible access to the store would be revoked until impacted titles are properly amended. 

Steam store showing on a Windows laptop

Steam is thought to have published hundreds of thousands of titles without correct licensing in the country (Image credit: Shutterstock - Casimiro PT)

What's the best way to access Steam in Vietnam?

Given Steam is now indefinitely banned in Vietnam, accessing your Steam games is going to be a smidge more difficult, but not impossible. By using a VPN, you can not only regain access to your Steam library by connecting to a server in a different country, but also successfully play your games online without experiencing issues such as lag, packet loss, or high ping during crucial moments. 

I've always kept a close eye on what the best gaming VPN is at any particular moment, as unlike when simply looking for the best VPN service, a gaming VPN will not only give you the online security you expect from a VPN, but also a host of other features to ensure you see no impact to your online performance, and can access your games wherever you may be.

Best gaming VPNs

1. The best gaming VPN: NordVPN
NordVPN provides a superfast network with speeds of over 950 Mbps, so you won't have to suffer lag just because you want to play Western games. 

Plus, with NordVPN's Meshnet feature, you can connect up to 60 devices, no matter where they are. The feature routes everything through the same device's IP - letting you bypass household detection. Plus you can use Nord's 30-day money-back guarantee to give it a full test before you commit. View Deal

2. Best gaming VPN for beginners: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN offers a really simple app to make gaming faster and easier. Just hit pick a country and it'll automatically give you the fastest, most secure connection. 

My latest speed tests showed Express at 450 Mbps, which is more than enough for gaming competitively online and streaming simultaneously. Try ExpressVPN with its 30-day money-back guarantee and see how it compares to NordVPN.View Deal

3. Best cheap VPN: Surfshark
If you're looking to game securely on a budget, Surfshark is your best bet. Surfshark provides a user-friendly, effective, and, most importantly, secure experience, for a price VPNs such as ExpressVPN could only dream of. 

Providing connection speeds up to 950Mbs—the fastest of any provider I tested—alongside security from its WireGuard encryption and easy gaming thanks to its dedicated IP availability, Surfshark provides bounds of value. Plus, you can trial it before you commit thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee.View Deal

How to use Steam with a VPN

If the Steam ban in Vietnam has left you without your favorite games, you'll be pleased to know that by using a VPN you can access all of your favorite titles, simply by connecting to a server in another country. Here are the steps you need to take to access Steam using a VPN:

1. Sign up for a VPN

Whether you're certain of the VPN you want or are looking to use some 30-day money-back guarantees to give a few of the best VPNs a go, the choice is yours. Once you're signed up, make sure to download the app for your new VPN onto your computer to make sure you can access every feature on offer. 

2. Launch the VPN and pick a server in an alternate location

Once you've downloaded the VPN app to your computer, use the selection menus to pick a server in a country that will enable you to access your full Steam library. Once you've found a server, turn on your VPN and ensure a connection is established.

3. Log in to your Steam account and find your account details

With your VPN online and connected, log into Steam and access the Account details tab— this can normally be found by clicking your Steam username in the top right-hand corner of your screen. From here, click the Update store country button in the Store & Purchase History section and select the country your VPN is connected to. 

4. Enter a new billing address

Here's a trickier bit. Since Steam needs to bill you for purchases, you need to add an address to your account in the relevant country. An easy solution for this can be to talk to any friends or work colleagues you might have in the country who could comfortably give you their address.

5. Download your new game and get playing!

Once you have a new country and address set up in your Steam account, you're free to play! Make purchases, download games, and play online—or alone if that's more to your fancy. With your VPN connected, your Steam capabilities will be no different from if you were connected in the country your VPN is using, and your download speeds shouldn't be too heavily impacted either, making for a supreme gaming experience without the hassle of regional bans. 

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