Debuting today in public beta, Steam China is the first localized version of Valve's seminal PC storefront to make its way to the country, with the new marketplace delivering a unique version that sticks to the censorship laws enforced by its government. China has long been a difficult market for video games to conquer, with consoles often releasing much later in China than the rest of the world and games going through rigid scrutiny before they release.
As such, it seems Steam China's offerings at launch are incredibly slim, with the storefront only delivering 53 games in total for Chinese audiences to try out. The list doesn't include many heavy hitters either, with the biggest two games to make the list arguably being Dota 2 and Counter-Strike. Other entries include Human Fall Flat, RPG Maker, Candle-Man: Full Version, Undying, Fast-Paced, and Run Meow.
The lack of games, according to PC Gamer, is due to the government license developers must acquire to release a game in China, with the certification indicating it's met a lengthy list of strict regulations. It's long restricted the distribution of video games to Chinese players, leading to users mostly sticking to the international version of Steam or importing games from outside of the country. It seems the short list is all Steam can currently put together for its localized storefront, with most other games not having clearance to make their debut on Steam China's more restrictive database.
The site currently doesn't include any community features either, including forums. That means no guides, no Steam Workshop, and no community pages. Reviews do make the cut, however, with players still able to leaving kind or scathing words for titles they've recently played. All in all, it stands as a stark comparison to its international counterpart, which has over 21,000 games and a vast community of players who frequently communicate via the site's forums.
The public beta will continue to run for the foreseeable future, although it remains to be seen whether players will switch over to Steam China when the global version is still available in the country. It seems many users of the service are worried that its implementation could see the standard release of Steam barred from players, locking out the reams of uncensored content currently available on the storefront. It would also be detrimental to many independent developers who rely on the wide audiences provided by Steam's international store to stay in business.
In late January 2021, Judge Thomas Zilly of the Western District of Washington began to hear the case against Valve, brought by plaintiff Ironburg Inventions for infringing their patent on rear-facing buttons on a game controller. The verdict for the case, the first ever patent jury trial to be heard remotely due to coronavirus restrictions, was handed down on February 1.
Despite Valve’s insistence that it had not infringed on any patents or intellectual property, the jury decided otherwise and ordered the company to pay $4 million in damages to Ironburg. The plaintiff’s lawyer, Robert Becker, had argued that Valve’s actions were akin to the Biblical story of David and Goliath. “Goliath does what Goliath wants to do,” he stated.
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