After almost a year of rumors and speculation, it seems Steam China is really happening. Like, officially-officially. For real, this time.
The company just confirmed in its “2020 in review” post on January 14 that Steam and its partner, Chinese gaming company Perfect World, was “really close to launching” Steam China in “early 2021.”
While an exact release date is still unclear, the platform is making an appearance at a Perfect World gaming convention in Shanghai this weekend, which it announced via its official account on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo last December.
That’s sparked rife speculation that this weekend will see a proper launch of Steam in China (though there’s been no official confirmation of this).
Maybe that should be a cause for celebration, but China’s gamers are not happy. Having once operated in a legal grey area, Steam was available with a full (read: uncensored) library of titles and domestic payment options — such as WeChat Pay and Alipay — for gamers in China, before an official Chinese version was announced.
Now that Steam is going legit, gamers aren’t thrilled about the sanitization it will have to undergo in order to officially exist in the country.
Steam China is Finally Here – But Gamers Aren’t Happy
Even now, most comments on the official Weibo are slamming Steam China’s entry into the country. “Don’t come here,” read more than a few comments on Steam’s Weibo post promoting the convention. “We’re just a bunch of people who want to play games. We want the superstructure to let us go,” reads another, accompanied with a crying emoji.
We’ve known since 2019 that Steam China would be an entirely separate entity from the international version. Beyond that, there are plenty of rumors. When Steam updated its files in December 2020, netizens played detective and found, among other things, evidence that Steam China would be released as an update through the existing Steam client, essentially making a shift to Steam China mandatory for users located in China.
US gaming-focused platform Win.gg also reported in May last year that a leaked version of Steam’s alpha release would have new features such as a pop-up window with tips for healthy gaming and managing addiction, and possibly even a time limit for gamers using the platform in China.
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It remains to be seen whether or not these will actually be implemented when Steam China finally launches.
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