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Too Little Too Late? Gaming Platform Steam Launches in China

Ding Yi / Feb 10, 2021 05:40 PM / Business & Tech

Steam, a popular online video game platform owned by Valve, has finally launched its long-awaited China-specific version, but with a limited number of titles possibly as a result of the country’s strict licensing rules.

Currently, there are some 40 games available on the China version including global hits “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” and “Dota 2”, with another eight penciled in for the near future. The limited number is in sharp contrast to Steam’s global version which has nearly 50,000 titles available.

The China-specific version, which was launched through a partnership with local game developer and publisher Perfect World, also comes in the absence of community features such as a message board and workshop.

The limited number of games and the absence of some features have sparked skepticism over China-based gamers’ willingness to switch to Steam’s Chinese version from its global version, which is accessible in China but faces the risk of being closed at any time.

The Chinese government has long adopted policies to prevent games involving blood, violence and content considered politically sensitive from hitting the market. In 2018, authorities stopped issuing licenses to game developers, effectively putting the brakes on revenue growth for many gaming companies like Tencent. The suspension was lifted in 2019.

China is home to the largest gaming market in the world. According to a report by Tencent, in 2019, sales revenues for the Chinese gaming market were around 230 billion yuan ($35 billion) and in 2020, estimated revenues are expected to jump by 17% to 270 billion yuan.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: In Depth: Huawei and Tencent Aren’t Playing Around Over Mobile Gaming Revenue

 

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