Valve’s market platform Steam officially got a Chinese vertical today. Steam China was launched in association with Perfect World, Valve’s official partner in the country.
Valve, in collaboration with Perfect World, officially signed today an agreement with Shanghai’s government to launch Steam China pic.twitter.com/KvwtMyaEDd
— Nors3 (@Nors3) November 28, 2018
Valve and Perfect World’s intent has been public for some time now. The first reports on upcoming Steam China appeared back in June, with the project appealing to an already massive Chinese population on the vintage Steam platform. At present time, simplified Chinese is the set language for more than 22 percent of Steam’s user base.
Steam China will likely lift the block on some current Steam features, such as the Steam Community, but it poses further interesting questions and clash of politics. Back in June, Valve vowed to allow any type of content to be sold on their platform, as long as it’s not illegal or trolling, stating in a blog post:
“If you’re a player, we shouldn’t be choosing for you what content you can or can’t buy. If you’re a developer, we shouldn’t be choosing what content you’re allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.”
Yet this type of policy likely won’t be fully welcomed in China, the country’s local politics being infamous for censorship and content control. Early reports on Steam China by Tech Crunch mention that it will be Perfect World who “will control local promotional, the selection of games and distribution.” The company being Shanghai-based, however, it won’t be a surprise to see it bend to censorship appeals from the local government.
Even with that in mind, the move makes sense for both Valve and Perfect World. The competition for the Chinese market is fierce, while it retains the largest player population in the world. In September, Riot Games parent company Tencent launched its own online gaming platform WeGame. Another one of PW’s competitor, NetEase, is in tight partnership with Activision-Blizzard and distributing the game giant’s products on local soil.
More details on the Steam China project are yet to be announced.