Tomorrow Valve will start testing the official version of Steam for China. However, local users expressed their dissatisfaction with what was happening. They fear that they will soon be deprived of the opportunity to play thousands of games due to the unavailability of the international version of the store.What is the dissatisfaction of gamers?
The full launch of the Chinese version of Steam will take place at the beginning of this year, and the publisher Perfect World will be responsible for it.
On January 16, the company will begin testing the service in China as part of its esports festival, the South China Morning Post reports.
Now Chinese gamers have two versions of the Valve store available — local Steam China and international. Users can still buy games that have not officially received a license in the country, but they may soon be deprived of this opportunity.
“Good games just can’t get permission. We won’t be able to play what we want,” writes one disgruntled Weibo user.
Last year, the Chinese authorities issued licenses to 1,413 projects, of which only 97 were games from foreign developers. These statistics quite transparently hint at how small a number of titles will be available to local gamers in case of blocking the international version of Steam.
Threat to developersWe wrote in detail about the work of Steam China and the difficult process of obtaining a license last year.
“Many developers enter the Chinese market through the international version of Steam and ignore the burdensome process of obtaining permission, which requires a Chinese partner and publisher,” explains analyst Daniel Ahmad.
So far, neither Valve nor Perfect World have talked about shutting down the international version of the store. However, many believe that it is only a matter of time, and after the full launch of the Chinese version of Steam, game studios risk losing a large part of the audience.
This is hinted at by previous precedents related to the launch of products in China. For example, last year Tencent prepared the official release of the Nintendo Switch in the country, but only 13 approved games were available in the local version.
Expert opinionsOwen Soh, founder of the gaming consulting agency EastLab Consulting, believes that the days of the international version of Steam in China are numbered: “It will probably take two to three years to completely block, given Apple’s experience and its attempts to find a balance between cooperation with regulators and the presence of a critical mass of licensed products in its store.”
Ahmad is confident that users will find a way around possible blocking: “There is a great demand for foreign games in China. Whether it’s a VPN or an alternative store, gamers will find a way to play them.”
Against the background of the actions of the Chinese government and numerous blockages in the country, various VPN services designed specifically to launch inaccessible games are becoming increasingly popular. Demand has become so great that even local giants Tencent and NetEase have released their applications (the so-called “game boosters”).
“People will always find a way to play the games they need. This is doubly relevant for PC, where players tend to be much more sophisticated users than on other platforms like mobile,” says Serkan Toto, director of the gaming consulting company Kantan Games.