Steam now has more than 30 million users in China, according to Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad. The platform's popularity initial arose out of Dota 2, he explained yesterday on Twitter, but has grown since then thanks "more localized games, regional pricing, local payment methods, [and a] wide variety of games banned/blocked in China."
That large domestic audience has in turn helped Chinese indie developers achieve success on Steam, Ahmad said: The Scroll of Taiwu has sold more than 600,000 units on Steam, while Chinese Parents, about raising a child and sending them off to university, "has also topped the Steam charts recently," despite both games only supporting Simplified Chinese.
"China's State Council issued recommendations that will make it easier (and not as lengthy) for internet cafe's and game companies to set up business in the country," Ahmad tweeted. "It's a positive sign to see the promotion of new gaming entity creation amid a tough regulatory environment."
That regulatory environment includes a freeze on new game approvals and an active crackdown on gaming that the authorities said is aimed at reducing myopia in children. Ahmad summarized the current situation in a Q&A at nikopartners.com in which he said that "despite the temporary game approval freeze, the demand from gamers has not decreased at all."
"In fact, the games industry has continued to see growth, albeit at a slower rate than during the same period last year. Hit legacy titles continue to perform well and larger companies have been able to launch brand new successful games that were approved prior to the freeze," he wrote. "Whilst it’s unclear when the SAPP will complete its reforms and start game approvals again, we do expect to see a rebound in the China games market when this happens as new games are approved and released."
Nonetheless, China's crackdown on games has taken a significant toll on one of the country's gaming giants Tencent, which just a few months ago appeared to be gearing up for a global head-to-head with Valve. According to a recent CNN report, the company's shares are down roughly 40 percent from January 2018, a loss of more than $230 billion in market value, and it no longer ranks among the world's top ten companies.