After years of uncertainty, Steam China is finally here. It’s a version of Steam exclusive to those living in mainland China that only sells games that have been properly licensed by the Chinese government. At first glance, the main store page looks just like regular Steam (with the language set to Simplified Chinese, obviously). There’s a carousel of recommended games to try and lists of best sellers or hotly anticipated upcoming games.
In fact, the available Steam library outside of China contains about 48,000 titles while the Chinese version of Steam currently only has around 40 titles available, with another 10 or so listed as coming soon. Included in that list are, of course, Valve’s own e-sports titles Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2. The service is a long time coming — Valve announced that it would be bringing it to China back in 2018, though Chinese gamers have been able to access the service with Steam’s global client. Even those 40 games would not have reached China if it wasn’t for the local publisher Perfect World.
Chinese laws restrict games involving blood, corpses and gambling in order to protect young gamers and battle gaming addiction in the country. As a result, each title has to be given the green light by the government before reaching the market.
As such, Steam says that every game on the Chinese service must be vetted for approval by the country’s government. Upon getting the green light, the Chinese publisher of each title is granted an ISBN number that is displayed on its Steam product page.