Steam China missing features, doesn’t transfer player purchases

By Nick Johnson


Feb 9, 2021

Reading time: 4 min

Steam China is live but players might be forced to leave their games behind if they want to move from Steam’s global client to Valve’s official Chinese client.

It looks like players that move from Valve’s global client to Steam China will be waiting a long time for their games to come with them. The Chinese government will have to approve each game for sale in the country. And only if publishers are willing to jump through the right hoops to sell their games in China at all.

“When feasible, you will get these games for free, as well as your game progress and achievements,” Steam’s login page says.

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Steam China’s inability to transfer purchased games is only mentioned once and it’s unfortunately located on the same screen as the usually-skipped “Terms and Conditions.”

Although they’ll still be able to access Steam’s global Client, players won’t be able to bring much with them. Users are effectively separated from their trading cards, badges, and games until the Chinese government approves the sale of each game. In another blow to Chinese consumers, Steam Wallet funds in global accounts cannot be transferred between the two platforms.

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Steam China launches without the Marketplace, Workshop support

Steam China went live with anti-addition playtime limits alongside other concessions at the request of the People’s Republic of China, but that’s about all it went live with.

The Chinese version of the undisputed king of PC gaming is just a shell of itself. While Steam sells over 48,000 different games across the rest of the world, China’s strict regulations mean that Steam China only has a total of 52 available. The difference is shocking, with Steam China’s client offering an option to list “All Games.”

For something that has taken so long for Valve to prepare and launch, it’s underwhelming, to say the least.

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Valve’s Steamworks documentation says that it is currently “working with a select group of partners” in order to release games in China, but it’s ultimately unclear who those partners are. There’s also no telling when more games will get the go ahead from the Chinese government to release on the platform.

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It got even worse for Chinese players, as word slowly started to spread that the altered client had launched without two of Steam’s main draws: the ability for users to access a national version of Steam Workshop and the Steam Marketplace. The Chinese government has banned the Steam Community features in the country since 2018.

In what feels like a bait and switch, many players likely won’t realize how limited the new client’s options are until they log in, since Steam China’s welcome page a mirror image of Valve’s global version. By that time, they’ll have bound their Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 accounts to their new Steam China persona.

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Despite making adjustments to the client to comply with Chinese regulations, even Valve wasn’t exempt from the country’s well-known limitations and restrictions on video games. While CSGO and Dota 2 made it through, Valve’s other titles such as Portal 2, Team Fortress 2, and the Half-Life series were nowhere to be found.

But that hasn’t stopped Perfect World from offering Chinese players of CSGO and Dota 2 incentives to move from Steam Global to Steam China.

Perfect World tempts CSGO and Dota 2 players with chances at free skins

CSGO’s Chinese homepage is even offering recruitment incentives for players that bring friends with them to Steam China. Joining the “CSGO National Service” rewards players with a chance at CSGO’s weapon crates, but only until February 28th. This adds a sense of urgency to the process.

Additionally, any Perfect World CSGO credits, the currency Chinese players use for CSGO’s microtransactions, are only eligible to be transferred to Steam up until then. After that, they’re gone forever.

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It’s a complicated issue, especially with how Perfect World seems to be pushing players to move to the ID-locked accounts following Steam China’s release. The publisher is offering another chance at a drop to players that transfer their Steam Global accounts to Steam China in addition to following the CSGO National Service WeChat account.

In return, players will receive codes they can use to enter to win weapon skins that the publisher makes sure to note are in “Factory New” condition. There’s even an entire out-of-game CSGO event scheduled to start on February 11, according to the Chinese CSGO blog. The date also coincides with Valve’s Lunar New Year Sale starting on February 12.

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In what could have been Chinese players pouring back to the Global Client thanks to the poor product, Valve’s global Steam client recorded a record high in concurrent users, peaking at over 26 million people online at one time on February 8.

But with only 52 games even listed in China, Steam China might wind up being Valve’s only flop.