Valve's Steam China beta could launch on Feb 9: Analyst
In January Valve had stated that its team was “really close” to launching Steam China, and was aiming for a release “in early 2021”, along with its partner Perfect World.
After several months of uncertainty for gamers in China, Valve is reportedly set to launch the beta version of its much awaited ‘Steam China' gaming client as early as next week, according to gaming industry analyst Daniel Ahmad.
Perfect World and Valve will launch a public beta of Steam China on Feb 9.— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) February 3, 2021
DOTA 2 and CSGO will be the first titles to start operations on the new platform. Chinese players will be required to sign up on Steam China to play these games, everything transfers over. pic.twitter.com/f2C07M7RhK
In a blog post made earlier in January, Valve had shared details of its performance during 2020 while also revealing plans for this year. It had stated that its team was hard at work, they they were “really close” to launching the program, and aimed to bring Steam to Chinese users “in early 2021”, along with its partner Perfect World.
According to Ahmad, Perfect World and Valve will now launch the public beta of Steam China on Feb 9 - the first two titles that will operate on the new platform will be Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and DOTA 2, Ahmad said, adding that once players signed up for Steam China, everything would “transfer over.' Currently, users can access the international version of Steam without any restrictions.
The analyst says that Valve has likely chosen this route in order to avoid any backlash from the Chinese government around ‘unlicensed' games that it offers. Valve's international catalog has several titles that have not been licensed by the Chinese government - this makes distributing them illegal. However, Ahmad said that it isn't yet clear whether the Chinese will simply order Steam to shut down the international version of the game.
At this point, gamers in China can currently access both the International version of Steam and Steam China with no issues.— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) February 3, 2021
It remains to be seen whether China's government will block access to Steam International in the future, given it offers unlicensed (illegal) games.
Ahmad's concerns aren't made up - In December, we reported that Apple had removed more than 46,000 apps from the China store, including 39,000 game titles as they did not have proper licenses from the Chinese government. These included titles like Ubisoft title Assassin's Creed Identity and NBA 2K20, among others, according to research firm Qimai.