Valve is bringing an official version of Steam to China.
Valve is partnering with Chinese company Perfect World, a worldwide publisher of (mostly) MMOs, to officially bring a localised version of Steam to China. It’ll simply be called Steam China.
The two companies announced the move in a press release this week, but did not provide a launch date.
Valve and Perfect World have been partners before, of course, as the Shanghai-based company is the official distributor of Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in China.
Steam has technically been accessible in China for a while, too, but as you’re probably aware by now, the Chinese government doesn’t like it when foreign companies do business in the country without roping in a local partner.
As it stands, without an official agreement, the government can see the platform as a threat to the national identity or something or other, and could easily block access to it. In fact, the Steam Community – one part of Steam’s rich feature set – was recently blocked in China.
The press release mentions “a new way” for developers and players to access Steam’s content, but it’s not clear exactly what this means.
The more likely scenario is that China will get its own, sanctioned version of Steam which complies with Chinese law. But this implies so form of curation, even though Valve recently announced a hands-off approach as to which games get published on Steam.
Once again, neither company has touched on whether Steam China will be censored in any way. The companies confirmed, however, that this announcement does not affect Steam’s current “worldwide operations and services”.