Rocket League is coming to China as part of a free-to-play partnership with Tencent

The game won't be available for purchase through Steam.

The soccer-meets-motorsport multiplayer phenomenon Rocket League is headed to China, in a slightly different configuration than we're used to. Developer Psyonix announced today that it will be released in the country as a free-to-play game, "to better suit the expectations of that community," and instead of Steam it's partnered up with gaming giant Tencent. 

"Though the core gameplay experience will remain unchanged, our traditional framework will be replaced with a new streamlined free-to-play system," the studio said. "In keeping with Rocket League traditions, however, the Chinese free-to-play version will not follow a 'pay-to-win' formula, and will instead hold true to our 'community first' mantra, where skill and teamwork are your most important attributes." 

The most interesting thing about the Chinese rollout of Rocket League is the partnership with Tencent. It came to light earlier this week that the Tencent Gaming Platform is being rebranded to the more consumer-friendly WeGame (which, as Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad revealed on Twitter, happened earlier today), which led to suggestions that the company is gearing up for a global showdown with Steam. But the Rocket League pickup, along with partnerships with Hi-Rez, Ubisoft, Epic, and others, more readily fits with Ahmad's belief that Tencent is focused on growth in China, where it already has a significant lead over Valve's platform. 

Psyonix said more information about the Rocket League release in China is up at rl.qq.com, which unfortunately won't do you much good if you don't read Chinese. It also said that while it will no longer be available for purchase through Steam in the region, "The existing community will still have access to the game you paid for in addition to all other currently-available features."