Steam will officially launch in China next week.
Steam's localised, government-approved version for the Chinese market, is finally nearing launch. The China-only version kicks off its open beta on February 9 with the help of Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
The Chinese version of Steam is operated by publisher Perfect World, and it's the result of years of work and a partnership that began three years ago. When Steam China goes live, Chinese players will need to sign up for an account if they want to continue playing Dota 2 and CS:GO.
As noted by Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad, existing progress in the two games will transfer over to the localised version. Despite this version having its own client, separate from the international version of Steam, the intention is for all purchases and account history to seamlessly make the transition.
That said, not every game being sold on the worldwide version of Steam will be available in China. Indeed, the whole point of this endeavour is for Valve to gain a foothold in the Chinese market, but that also means that the available games will first need to be approved by Chinese regulators.
As Ahmad points out, it's not clear whether the international version of Steam will remain accessible once Steam China officially goes live. For now, Chinese players can freely switch between the two. The international version of Steam offers a much deeper catalogue, but always operated in a sort of grey area in the Chinese market.
It's very possible that Chinese players will need to rely on a VPN to access the standard version of Steam going forward.