Valve announced last year that it was partnering with Chinese publisher Perfect World to bring a localised version of Steam to China. Called “Zhengqi Pingtai” – which translates to “Steam Platform” – the marketplace will reportedly operate entirely independently to Steam in other parts of the world, ensuring the platform will be “tailored for Chinese users” and offer “high-speed servers and high-quality operations teams”, as well as adhering to China’s strict gaming regulations.
As yet there’s no confirmed release date, but Technode reports there will be around 40 games available at launch, including some of Valve’s own hugely popular titles, including Dota 2 and Dota Underlords.
“Steam China’s just gonna be a much better experience for Chinese customers. Local servers, all localised 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 told Eurogamer.
Powers also intimated the store would be managed in a different way to the rest of the world, with “a little more curated” content rather than its controversial hands-off approach elsewhere.
“It’s a different market, where there’s just a process that games have to go through. The way we operate Steam worldwide, where it’s really developers coming to us, they sign up, they ship their game – you just can’t have that same operation here. And so we’re working with the processes in place and we’ll get as many games on the platform as we can, but there’s just a limit, and by definition kind of has to be a little more curated.
“I think it’ll be interesting to see just how a market reacts to a more curated storefront,” he added. “I mean we know a lot of that, I’ve been at Steam a long time and I remember when Steam was very curated for a number of reasons as well, that we worked really hard to kind of eliminate over the years some of those barriers, but, yeah I think we’ll just be interested in how consumers react to it, and if we do learn something that tells us we should be more open to that kind of storefront, then we’ll take that data and consider it, for sure.”
Rival Epic Games Store “quietly unlocked” its digital PC storefront in May, making almost all of its games available to purchase in mainland China. While the site does not currently accept credit cards, it does accept payment via the online vendors WeChat and AliPay. As “a low-cost region”, the prices of games like Borderlands 3 and Metro Exodus are “substantially lower than in North America”.