There was little to no doubt that China would slowly but surely become a gaming industry leader. After all, they’re already doing that as a global leader in the economy. But to see how the usage of Steam has grown in the country has become a marvel in and of itself. According to Niko Partners analyst David Ahmad, Steam has over 30 million users right now in China.
Steam has more than 30m users in China.
It initially gained popularity due to DOTA 2, but has grown due to more localised games, regional pricing, local payment methods + wide variety of games banned/blocked in China.
Perfect World/Valve are creating a China only ver. of Steam. pic.twitter.com/weK09n2qmC
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) October 17, 2018
You might scoff at the number until you realize that the government has cracked down on the licensing of new games. In fact, they’ve been doing this since March of this year. On top of that, the two biggest companies in the Chinese games industry — Tencent and NetEase — haven’t fared too well in recent months. This is in spite of some of the biggest games in the country, Honor of Kings (Arena of Valor in the west) and League of Legends, continuing to dominate cafes in the country. So yes, it is fascinating to see how well Steam is holding up.
Steaming Ahead in China
So how exactly is Steam getting more users from China aboard? Well, Ahmad — with a Zhuge Liang Twitter avatar which we found apropos — cited several reasons:
- first and foremost, there’s Dota 2
- more games are being localized for Simplified Chinese, Mandarin, or other dialects
- better regional pricing — as someone from Southeast Asia, I can relate because Steam games are ridiculously cheap in Philippine Pesos compared to their price tags abroad
- indie developers finding success on Steam
Ahmad cited two indie gems that became hits in China. Chinese Parents (seen above) is one. That’s an indie title where you play as a parent raising their child to send them to university. Another example is The Scroll of Taiwu, which is about Wuxia or martial arts. The Scroll of Taiwu has sold 600,000 copies on Steam.
If you notice, there is an underlying theme with these hit games. They all exemplify Chinese or Southeast Asian cultures. That representation plus being able to play a game depicting an era, or story, or concept that has become part of your upbringing becomes an inescapable hook among many gamers in China and throughout Asia.
Valve, through Steam, is striking while the iron is hot, and it may become even hotter. As Bloomberg has mentioned in the past, China has unlimited potential when it comes to growth. It just might be the gaming capital of the world.