Valve’s gaming platform Steam is finally coming to China. Except it’s already been here for years. Confused? Let us explain.
Reports from Win.gg point to a leaked launch of an alpha version of the system made for the Chinese market, with all the hallmarks of the current gaming climate in China. For example, a message that appears whenever a user opens a game, “encourages Chinese citizens to practice moderation and includes a warning that ‘excess play is harmful to the body,'” according to the report.
One of the world’s biggest game distribution networks entering the Chinese market hasn’t exactly been seen as cause for celebration for China’s gamers however. Steam has already been available in the country for several years, albeit operating in a legal grey area — it’s been accessible (with some restrictions, for example around community features) but not officially sanctioned or licensed. That’s made it a popular destination not just for gamers but also for China-based developers, who have racked up some major wins on the Steam charts.
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First announced back in 2018, the new Steam China would have to comply with the country’s strict gaming regulations, which gamers fear will mean fewer titles and greater restrictions. Win.gg appears to confirm some of these concerns noting that “all profile information is being sanitized by the Steam client” and that “it also seems that Valve is restricting users from playing games between certain hours.”
Understandably, reaction from China’s gamers has been less than ecstatic. The most upvoted comment on a post referencing Win.gg’s report on microblogging platform Weibo echoes the language used when the Chinese government discusses Taiwan:
“The position of China’s Steam fans on the issue of Steam’s foreign relations is very clear. We adhere to the principle of ‘one Steam’ and oppose the ‘split’ position, which is unswerving and will be increasingly recognized and supported by the international community. Any attempt to create ‘two Steams’ is doomed to failure.”
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But like it or not, it seems China’s gamers will be forced to make do with a more “harmonious” version of Steam in the not-too-distant future.
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