Valve has finally managed to bring Counter-Strike: Global Offensive into China.
As a result of a deal with Perfect World, one of the biggest publishers in the country, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is now available to all in mainland China.
The game is free-to-play for Chinese players who can verify their identity. This is done by creating a Perfect World account and entering a few details, but players can also choose to buy the game if they don't want to give out these details.
Either way, players will be given the Prime status, which allows them access to Prime-only matchmaking. Valve touts local servers for low ping. This is very similar to the Prime-only matchmaking available in the Western version, only that one requires a phone number verification.
Players who join through Perfect World in the first month will get a graffiti pattern and two stickers for free. International audience will be able to buy these starting next month.
This move has been a long time coming, as Valve's way of trying to compete with the massive CrossFire - hence making it free-to-play. CrossFire is one of the biggest free-to-play shooters in the world, and it reigns supreme in China.
Ironically, CrossFire owes it success to classic Counter-Strike, as the game is practically a clone of CS 1.6 with some changes. Perfect World is the partner of choice for Valve here, since the other conglomerate would be Tencent, which owns CrossFire and League of Legends, both competitors to Valve's games.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive may see a nice spike in player numbers on Steam as a result of this, though it remains to be seen if it's going to top the current king PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.