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What just happened? This week saw the long-awaited public launch of Steam China, a version of Valve’s platform designed specifically for the country and its strict rules for which games get government approval. While it gives Chinese users their own servers to play on, only 53 games are available and none of the usual community features.
Valve has spent years working on Steam China with Chinese publisher Perfect World, the company behind Remnant: From the Ashes. While the international version of Steam is available in the country, and accessible without a VPN, many of the community features aren’t easily accessible, reports PC Gamer.
Almost all the games on Steam’s international version aren’t compliant with China’s media regulations, making its presence legally questionable in the country. With the China-specific version, every game has been licensed by the Chinese government—all 53 of them. The standard version of Steam, for comparison, has 21,131 games and DLC.
Some of the titles on Steam China include Valve classics Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2. Helpfully, international Steam accounts can be transferred to Steam China, including wallet balances and any of the purchased games allowed in the country. Additionally, any games bought on Steam China will work on the international version.
Community features including the Steam Workshop, forums, community pages, and guides are missing from Steam China, though reviews, taken from both Steam versions, remain.
While both versions of Steam currently work in China, there’s concern that the international one will eventually join China’s long list of blocked western internet services. Such a move would be devastating for gamers and developers, the latter of which often wait years to be granted a government license.
Sony China has confirmed that it plans to officially launch the PlayStation 5 in Mainland China during Q2 2021.— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) February 8, 2021
Tatsuo Eguchi, the president of SIE Shanghai and Soeda Takehito, the vice chairman, confirmed the new today in a special Chinese New Year greetings video. pic.twitter.com/nhFzbZQTGx
In addition to Steam, Chinese gamers will soon be able to buy a PlayStation 5 in the country, assuming the shortages ease. China finally allowed the manufacture and sale of video game consoles back in 2015 following a 14-year ban.
Steam is seeing record user numbers right now. Earlier this week, an all-time high of 26.4 million people connected to the service, breaking a record set last month.