Valve is seemingly getting closer to launching a localised version of Steam in China.
Steam China, a region-locked, censored and localised version of Valve’s storefront has been in the works since 2018. Despite this, Valve has yet to make any official announcement about its launch target or reveal the specifics of that version of Steam.
According to WIN.gg, a recent Steam update included an alpha version of Steam China, giving us a look at a few of the differences between it and the public, worldwide version.
The most immediately noticeable difference is a message from the Democratic Peoples Republic of China (DPRC) that encourages players to “boycott harmful games,” reject piracy and play in moderation. The message shows up for five seconds anytime a game is launched through Steam.
Steam’s user profile icons within that client have been converted to the default question mark, which limits the risk of using images the Chinese government may not want. User names have likewise been changed to the default Steam ID, a string of numbers that seemingly don’t allow users to set a custom name.
Another major change is restricting game hours for certain users. WIN.gg tried launching CS:GO and Dota 2 but failed because it fell outside of government approved gaming hours, despite residing outside the country. It’s possible, as the site notes, that Steam China always defaults to China’s time zone.
Only those two games, however, were affected, as other games could be played without problems. The reason behind this could be that both games have regional, Chinese-sanctioned versions run by Perfect World, Valve’s Chinese partner.
Official Steam China servers are not yet live, so some of the specifics could change. For now, though, it appears Chinese players will get an inferior version of Steam.