An alpha build of Steam’s Chinese client has been obtained by one outlet, revealing the limits that the platform will put on Chinese gamers.
The news comes via Win.gg, reporting the alpha build was launched around May 19th. While we had not heard much about the Chinese client since its announcement in 2018, Win.gg have somehow gotten their hands on a build, which seems to have English language support.
While the alpha build reportedly has no Chinese servers, the build has several “features” all based around the Chinese government’s purported efforts to counter game addiction and myopia, and other Chinese laws.
The first of these is a warning screen that plays for five seconds on the start-up of every game.
For those relying on third party translation, the above states:
“Healthy Gaming Advisory
Boycott harmful games; reject game piracy.
Exercise self-protection; avoid deception.
Moderation promotes brain health; excess play is harmful to the body.
Well-planned use of your time will lead to a healthy lifestyle.”
The second major different is that user profiles are only shown via Steam’s ID number system (with profile images replaced with a question mark). Win.gg propose that Steam Community features must first be approved by a government agency before being displayed. This may even extent to individual profile names and avatars.
It should be noted that while users in China can buy games through Steam, they cannot access any community features such as chat, forums, shared screenshots, and more.
Finally, it appears that the Chinese Steam client is complicit with limiting when a user can play (as per the Chinese government’s recent laws).
Despite Win.gg’s own PC operating system clock being 4 pm, a warning screen told them they could not play a game because it was between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. (it would have been 5 a.m in China at the time). It asks the user to “Please take a break.”
This reportedly occurred with Counter Strike: Global Offensive and DOTA 2 (both games already available in China), but not with other games. This could mean other Chinese laws on gaming are likely to be in place, such as limits on how often users play games, and possibly limits on interacting with foreigners.
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