Valve has announced a new partnership with Perfect World Co. to launch Steam China, which "will provide Chinese gamers and developers with a new way to access Steam's expansive selection of games and entertainment."
The size of the Chinese audience makes the launch of an officially-approved version of Steam in the country a huge move for Valve. The store is accessible in the country, but access to the Steam Community, including forums, user profiles, and inventories, is completely blocked, meaning that anything requiring interaction with other users isn't going to work.
Valve's move to launch a region-specific store comes roughly a year after Chinese conglomerate Tencent began making moves that appeared aimed at becoming a major force in Western markets. Tencent owns League of Legends studio Riot as well as 40 percent of Fortnite developer Epic; it also recently partnered with JJ Abrams to launch Bad Robot Games, and holds the rights to publish PUBG in China.
Perfect World, meanwhile, is licensed to operate Valve's Dota 2 and CS:GO in China, and CEO Robert H. Xiao said that it will bring more Steam games to the country via the soon-to-be-officially-sanctioned platform. This could be a sort of "Clash of the Titans" shaping up for the fate of the Chinese market, then, and if that's the case then Steam China will be a major win for Perfect World.
Valve didn't say whether Steam China will have access to the full lineup of games and services, but stated that no changes to its existing international operations and services are planned. We reached out to Valve for comment and were told "more information, including launch details, will be made available soon."