Steam China will be 'almost entirely independent of Steam'

(Image credit: Perfect World (via ArchoEydra))

PC gaming is big in China, and so is Steam. It's not officially approved to operate there, yet millions of Chinese gamers use it every day (Simplified Chinese is the second-most-common language used on the platform), Chinese developers are flourishing, and major international publishers are intensifying their efforts to cater to the market.

Valve itself is looking to capitalize on that extremely lucrative market as well. Right now, the Steam situation in China is muddy at best: As Steven explained in his in-depth report on "censorship, Steam, and the explosive rise of PC gaming in China," the Chinese authorities tightly regulate videogames in the country, yet Steam has somehow escaped scrutiny—and nobody seems quite sure why. Perhaps working on the assumption that this state of affairs can't hold forever, Valve is working with Chinese gaming company Perfect World to launch an officially-sanctioned version of its storefront in the country.

"Steam China's just gonna be a much better experience for Chinese customers. Local servers, all localized content, so it's different in that it's just a service targeted at the Chinese gamers, as opposed to right now, where Chinese gamers are coming to Steam but it's you know, it's outside of China that they're accessing," Valve's DJ Powers said in an interview with Eurogamer.

"We want Chinese customers to have really high-quality access to Steam games, and that means getting a set of games approved through the appropriate channels, and a service that is local. The servers that are right there, they can have fast download times, features make their quality of life better obviously."

Powers acknowledged that Steam's notoriously uncurated, unregulated platform won't fly in China, and said that Valve is "working with the processes in place" to get as many games on Steam China as possible while ensuring compliance with the rules. But it doesn't sound like Valve has nailed down exactly how it's going to go about doing that—Powers said only that there are "policies and laws in place that we have to follow, so yeah, we'll adhere to all of those"—and Valve hasn't yet decided how (or even if) it will handle forums. 

Valve doesn't intend to have Steam China exclusives, Powers said, but he was less forthcoming about games going the other direction: When asked about games on Steam that aren't initially released on Steam China, and whether the global version of Steam will remain accessible after Steam China goes live, he said only—and twice—that "nothing'll change about Steam global."

He also brushed off concerns about "anti-Chinese sentiment" that's been directed at the Epic Games Store, saying that Valve is focused on "creating the best service we can for this customer base."

Despite the uncertainties, some fairly significant aspects of the storefront have apparently been nailed down. According to a separate Technode report, Steam China—called "Zhengqi Pingtai," which translates to "Steam Platform"—will be "almost entirely independent of Steam," and will launch with 40 games and programs, all of which are currently available on Steam. Chinese site (via ArchoEydra) listed them as:

  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV (三国志14)
  • Euro Truck Simulator 2 (欧洲卡车模拟2)'
  • Overcooked 2 (胡闹厨房2)
  • Dead Cell (重生细胞)
  • Two Point Hospital (双点医院)
  • Subnautica (深海迷航)
  • Unruly Heroes (非常英雄)
  • Scrap Mechanic (废品机械师)
  • Raft
  • One Shot
  • Dragon Cliff (龙崖)
  • Conqueror's Blade: Frontier (战意:前线)
  • ABZU (智慧之海)
  • Luna The Shadow Dust (月影之塔)
  • Risk of Rain 2 (雨中冒险2)
  • Touhou Luna Nights (废品机械师)
  • DYING: Reborn (临终:重生试炼)
  • Descenders (速降王者)
  • Faith of Danschant (神舞幻想)
  • Hidden Dragon: Legend (隐龙传)
  • Monkey King: Hero iIs Back (大圣归来)
  • ICEY (艾希)
  • GuJian (古剑奇谭)
  • Home Behind (归家异途)
  • Bright Memory (光明记忆)
  • Mobile Empire (手机帝国)
  • The Disappearing of Gensokyo (永远消失的幻想乡)
  • The Scroll Of Taiwu (太吾绘卷)
  • OPUS: Rocket of Whispers (OPUS:灵魂之桥)
  • Chinese Parents (中国式家长)
  • eSports Legend (电竞传奇)
  • Shio (汐)
  • Basketball Plan (篮球计划)
  • 不当英雄ROGUELIKE HERO (不当英雄)
  • RPG Maker MV (RPG制作大师MV)
  • Manga Maker ComiPo!
  • Wallpaper Engine
  • FTL
  • DOTA 2
  • DOTA Underlords
  • Stronghold: Warlords 

I've reached out to Perfect World for more information and will update if I receive a reply.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.