Gamers may be able to transfer their data
Valve will launch a public beta of Steam China on February 9, a standalone service offering games in line with Chinese regulations.
Steam China will be run on a separate client from the worldwide Steam services, but will initially allow those with a Steam account to log in to either service.
The first pair of games to be launched on the service will be Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and DOTA 2, copying previous data over from Steam’s regular client. According to a Twitter thread from Daniel Ahmad – senior analyst at Niko Partners – Chinese players will be required to sign up again, but can keep access to their data.
Initially, both Steam clients will be available to gamers in China, but according to Ahmad’s thread it remains unknown whether the international client will be banned in the country eventually due to its ‘illegal’ versions of games.
Chinese video games are subject to stricter requirements in terms of censorship and prior approval, so every game available on the service will have had to be approved by regulators. Steam China also requires a higher quality of Chinese localisation and language options. Valve have actively made it easier for smaller and indie development teams to upgrade their games accordingly.
Ahmad elaborated later on Twitter, clarifying that Steam has always been ‘operating in a grey area within China’. He pointed out that Apple has also had to create a ‘clean version of its store for China’.