Though the international version of Steam has been available in China for years, an official Chinese release of the the popular PC gaming platform has now debuted (via analyst Daniel Ahmad). If Chinese gamers needed more reason to celebrate, Sony also announced that the PlayStation 5 will be coming to the country soon.
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.
The global version, however, has always had the risk of being shut down at any time by the government, as it contains games that haven’t been officially approved. According to an interview with Eurogamer, Valve’s official Chinese client will only contain games that have gone through the official approval process, though the company does expect the global version to still be available alongside the official one.
For Chinese gamers that prefer consoles, Sony is planning on launching the PlayStation 5 in Q2 2021 — though it remains to be seen whether the launch will be plagued with the stock issues seen in the rest of the world. So far, there have only been a handful of modern consoles officially released in the country, as they were banned from 2000 to 2015. The PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch all got Chinese versions, but it looks like the PS5 may be the first next-gen console to officially arrive, as Microsoft hasn't yet announced plans to bring the Xbox Series X and S consoles to the country.
For both Steam and Sony, having another billion plus customers available to buy their products is a big deal. Some developers based in China, however, are less enthusiastic, raising concerns that the Chinese government may block the global version of Steam now that an official version exists. That would obviously lead to less access for gamers, and make it harder for Chinese developers to share their games with the world.