Valve has officially announced Steam China, in partnership with Perfect World. Known as ‘Zhengqi Pingtai’ in China, Steam China will be an entirely separate gaming client specifically tailored toward Chinese users. They’ll benefit from all games being localised as well as high-speed servers and high-quality operations teams.
A total of around 40 games will be ready for Steam China’s launch, including Valve’s own Dota 2 and Dota Underlords, FTL, Subnautica, Euro Truck Simulator 2, and a handful of others. Non-Chinese games will have to go through a fairly extensive approval process it seems but development of Steam China is progressing “smoothly” according to Perfect World CEO Dr. Robert H. Xiao.
The Chinese government operates a strict regulation process when it comes to video games, with the majority of console video games completely banned in China from 2000 through to July 2015. PC games weren’t though, although they were heavily restricted. With the rise of Tencent, Perfect World, and NetEase, Chinese gaming has absolutely boomed of late though, and Valve is poised to take advantage of it with its Perfect World partnership.
The standard version of Steam is actually already available for Chinese players, as you’ve probably noticed among Steam discussions and reviews. No VPN is required although Valve started locking out certain community features some time ago. As you can imagine, the Chinese government views this as a major loophole and so has found a method to regulate the service. There’ll be no mention of Winnie the Pooh on this service, that’s for sure. Maybe this means Devotion can finally come back to Steam?
What we end up with here is quite an interesting proposition though. While the floodgates are well and truly open for the standard version of Steam, with dozens upon dozens of games launching every day, Steam China will be a truly curated experience. In a way it’ll be a handy method for Valve to experiment with what works and what doesn’t in terms of curation.
There's no word on a release date for Steam China yet, although it doesn't sound as if we're too far off now.