China has had to wave goodbye to websites like Google, Facebook and Twitch, yet Steam has miraculously remained accessible over the years – albeit without all of its features. It seems as though local players have grown accustomed to the level of freedom the platform provides, going as far as to shun Steam China before it lands in Shanghai.
Steam’s global version has gained popularity in the country despite its Community features being censored, with many standing up against Valve and Perfect World’s joint effort developing a catered version. This open version allows the recorded 30 million Chinese players to access games that would otherwise be unavailable due to the country’s strict laws.
As the nation potentially tightens its regulations, players fear the restrictions a Chinese version of Steam will usher in, inevitably downsizing the available library. This has caused controversy among the public, resulting in many players telling “Steam China to get out of China.”
Just last year, 15 million Chinese players attempted to circumvent the country’s lengthy approval process on PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), prior to its official release courtesy of Tencent. It isn’t just Chinese citizens that are frustrated with the censorship imposed by the nation, however, as Ubisoft was forced to double back on map and icon edits to supposedly make Rainbow Six Siege competitively viable in the region.
This places developers in both the Western and Eastern worlds between a rock and a hard place, forgoing the single most lucrative market in favour of freedom or opting for green blood and the covering of skulls.
Last week, Valve and Perfect World signed an agreement with the Shanghai government, finalising the inevitable launch of Steam China. While these protests are very unlikely to derail Steam China, players are living in the pipe dream that there is enough of an outcry to make the country think twice. Should the release go ahead, access to the global version of Steam remains in question.
KitGuru Says: While we ultimately respect other cultures, it’s clear to see that the Chinese people are unhappy with current regulations. No matter the frustration directed at the player base due to past controversies, we truly hope there’s a better resolution at the end of the road than more censorship.